Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and eating disorders: a brief review


  • Márcia Rodrigues Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Centro Hospitalar Universitário do Porto
  • Patrícia Azevedo CRI Porto Central - ET Cedofeita



Introduction: Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder. The relationship between ADHD and eating disorders (EDs) has been recently often considered. Both conditions tend to have an early age of onset and can become chronic and persist into adulthood.
Objective: This study aimed to elucidate the prevalence and overlap of ADHD and EDs and review the current evidence about an association between both conditions. It also sought to investigate some of the mechanisms potentially underlying these comorbid disorders.
Methods: A brief review of the latest literature was performed on PubMed using the terms “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder”, “ADHD”, “eating disorders”, and “ADHD and ED”.
Results: The prevalence of EDs in individuals with ADHD has been reported across a range up to 12 %. The literature describes an association between childhood ADHD and the development of EDs during adolescence. Conversely, ADHD symptoms have been reported in patients with EDs, more frequently in those with bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa purging subtype than with anorexia nervosa restrictive subtype. Impulsive behaviors constitute a core ADHD symptom and deficits in its regulation have been shown in patients with EDs.
Conclusion: Evidence in the literature suggests an overlap between ADHD and EDs. More studies are required to retrieve additional insights into the clinical management of patients with both conditions.


Download data is not yet available.


Ramos-Quiroga JA, Bosch R, Castells-Cervelló X, Nogueira M, García-Giménez E, Casas M. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults: a clinical and therapeutic characterization. Rev Neurol. 2006; 42:600-606. doi:

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5. Washington, DC: The American Psychiatric Association; 2013.

Polanczyk G, Rohde LA. Epidemiology of attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder across the lifespan. Cur Opin Psych. 2007; 20(4):386-92. doi:

Polanczyk G, Lima MS, Horta BL, Biederman J, Rohde LA. The worldwide prevalence of ADHD: a systematic review and metaregression analysis. Am J Psychiatry. (6):942-8. doi:

Fayyad J, De Graaf R, Kessler R. Cross-national prevalence and correlates of adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Br J Psychiatry. 2007; 190:402-9. doi:

Shauna P. Reinblatt. Are eating disorders related to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder? Curr Treat Options Psych. 2015; 2(4): 402–12. doi:

Cortese S, Bernardina BD, Mouren MC. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Binge Eating. International Life Sciences Institute Nutrition Reviews. 2007; 65(9):404-11. doi:

Mikami AY, Hinshaw SP, Patterson KA, Lee JC. Eating pathology among adolescent girls with attention- deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Abnorm Psychol. 2008; 117(1):225-35. doi:

Nazar BP, Pinna CM, Coutinho G, Segenreich D, Duchesne M, Appolinario JC, et al. Review of literature of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder with comorbid eating disorders. Rev Bras Psiquiatr. 2008; 30(4):384-9. doi:

Biederman J, Ball SW, Monuteaux MC, Surman CB, Johnson JL, Zeitlin S. Are girls with ADHD at risk for eating disorders? Results from a controlled, five-year prospective study. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2007; 28(4):302-7. doi:

Surman CB, Randall ET, Biederman J. Association between attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder and bulimia nervosa: analysis of 4 case-control studies. J Clin Psychiatry. 2006; 67(3):351-4. doi:

Quinn PO. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and its comorbidities in women and girls: an evolving picture. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2008; 10(5):419-23. doi:

Wentz E, Lacey JH, Waller G, Råstam M, Turk J, Gillberg C. Childhood onset neuropsychiatric disorders in adult eating disorder patients. A pilot study. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2005; 14(8):431-7. doi:

Marucci S, Ragione LD, DeLaco G, Mococci T, Vicini M, Guastamacchia E, et al. Anorexia Nervosa and Comorbid Psychopathology. Endocrin, Metabolic & Immune disorders - Drug targets. 2018;18(4):316-324.

Sala L, Martinotti G, Carenti ML, Romo L, Oumaya M, Pham-Scottez A, et al. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms and psychological comorbidity in eating disorder patients. Eat Weight Disord. 2017; 23(4):513-9. doi:

Levin RL, Rawana JS. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and eating disorders across the lifespan: a systematic review of the literature. Clin Psychol Rev. 2016; 50:22-36. doi:

Nazar BP, Bernardes C, Peachey G, Sergeant J, Mattos P, Treasure J. The Risk of Eating Disorders Comorbid with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International Journal of Eating Disorders. 2016; 49(12):1045-57. 10.1002/eat.22643.

Ziobrowski H, Brewerton RD, Duncan AE. Associations between ADHD and eating disorders in relation to comorbid psychiatric disorders in a nationally representative sample. Psychiatry Res. 2018; 260:53-9. doi:

Surman CB, Randall ET, Biederman J. Association between attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder and bulimia nervosa: analysis of 4 case-control studies. J Clin Psychiatry. 2006; 67(3):351-4. doi:

Yates WR, Lund BC, Johnson C, Mitchell J, McKee P. Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Symptoms and Disorder in Eating Disorder Inpatients. Int J Eat Disord. 2009; 42(4):375-8. doi:

Nickel K, Maier S, Endres D, Joos A, Maier V, van Elst LT, Zeeck A. Systematic Review: Overlap Between Eating, Autism Spectrum, and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Front Psychiatry. 2019; 10:708. doi:

Svedlund NE, Norring C, Ginsberg Y, von Hausswolff-Juhlin Y. Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) among adult eating disorder patients. BMC Psychiatry. 2017; 17:19. doi:

Seitz J, Kahraman-Lanzerath B, Legenbauer T, Sarrar L, Herpertz S, Salbach-Andrae H, et al. The role of impulsivity, inattention and comorbid ADHD in patients with bulimia nervosa. PLoS One. 2013; doi:

Blinder BJ, Cumella EJ, Sanathara VA. Psychiatric comorbidities of female inpatients with eating disorders. Psychosom Med. 2006; 68(3):454-62. doi:

Seymour KE, ReinBlatt SP, Benson L, Carnell S. Overlapping neurobehavioral circuits in ADHD, obesity, and binge eating: Evidence from Neuroimaging Research. CNS Spectr. 2015; 20(4): 401–11. doi:

Kaye WH, Bulik CM, Thornton L, Barbarich N, Masters K. Comorbidity of Anxiety Disorders With Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa. Am J Psychiatry. 2004; 161(12):2215-21. doi:

Quinn PO. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and its comorbidities in women and girls: an evolving picture. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2008; 10(5):419-23. doi:

Gadalla T, Piran N. Co-occurrence of eating disorders and alcohol use disorders in women: a meta analysis. Arch Womens Ment Health. 2007; 10(4):133-40. doi:

Calero-Elvira A, Krug I, Davis K, López C, Fernández-Aranda F, Treasure J. Meta-analysis on drugs in people with eating disorders. Eur Eat Disord Rev J Eat Disord Assoc. 2009; 17(4):243-59. doi:

Herpertz-Dahlmann B. Adolescent eating disorders: update on definitions, symptomatology, epidemiology, and comorbidity. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2015; 24(1):177-96. doi:

Treasure J, Claudino AM, Zucker N. Eating disorders. Lancet Lond Engl. 2010; doi:

Biederman J, Newcorn J, Sprich S. Comorbidity of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with conduct, depressive, anxiety, and other disorders. Am J Psychiatry. 1991; 148(5):564-77. doi:

Porfirio MC, Lo-Castro A, Giana G, Giovinazzo S, Ouakil DP, Galasso C. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and binge eating disorder in a patient with 2q21.1–q22.2 deletion. Psychiatr Genet. 2012; doi:

Steadman KM, Knouse LE. Is the Relationship Between ADHD Symptoms and Binge Eating Mediated by Impulsivity? J Atten Disord. 2014; 20(11):907-12. doi:

Cortese S, Isnard P, Frelut ML, Michel G, Quantin L, Guedeney A, et al. Association between symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and bulimic behaviors in a clinical sample of severely obese adolescents. Int J Obes. 2007.

Nazar BP, Suwwan R, de Sousa Pinna CM, Duchesne M, Freitas SR, Sergeant J, et al. Influence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder on binge eating behaviors and psychiatric comorbidity profile of obese women. Compr Psychiatry. 2014; 55(3):572-8. doi:

Fernández-Aranda F, Agüera Z, Castro R, Jiménez-Murcia S, Ramos-Quiroga JA, Bosch R, et al. ADHD symptomatology in eating disorders: a secondary psychopathological measure of severity? BMC Psychiatry. 2013; 13:166. doi:




How to Cite

Rodrigues M, Azevedo P. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and eating disorders: a brief review. REVNEC [Internet]. 2022Jun.30 [cited 2023Sep.22];31(2):130-6. Available from:



Review Articles