The relation between symptoms of ADHD and symptoms of eating disorders in university students

Jessica Baraskewich, Emma A Climie
Journal of General Psychology 2021 January 22, : 1-15
There is evidence to suggest an association between Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and eating disorders (EDs). As those with subclinical symptoms of ADHD or ED often experience impairment, this cross-sectional study examined the relationship between ADHD symptoms and ED symptoms in a predominately subclinical undergraduate population. Students ( n  = 133; 80% female) completed questionnaires measuring ADHD and ED symptomatology. The relation between overall ADHD symptoms and ED symptoms was examined using linear regression; findings indicated that higher ADHD symptoms significantly predicted higher ED symptoms. When symptoms of both disorders were further delineated, inattentive ADHD symptoms consistently predicted higher ED symptoms (bulimia, body dissatisfaction, and drive for thinness). A number of mechanisms may explain the association between ADHD and ED symptoms, including shared executive function deficits, poor emotion regulation, and mood challenges. These mechanisms may have clinical relevance in ADHD and ED treatment and prevention efforts.

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