Are Eating Disorders Related to Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder?

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12 Scopus citations


Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder characterized by impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention. Binge-eating behavior is often impulsive and is the hallmark of the two eating disorders, binge-eating disorder (BED) and bulimia nervosa (BN), both of which are associated with significant health impairment. Bingeing behavior is also seen in the binge purge subtype of anorexia nervosa. Individuals with AN of the binge purge subtypes, BN and BED, have been found to exhibit impulsive behaviors that are often not limited to binge eating alone. There is preliminary evidence linking ADHD to BN and to BED in both adults and children. The neurobiological mechanisms behind these associations are only beginning to emerge; however, they suggest that impulse control deficits may play a role in these eating disorders. Additionally, although they may not meet full criteria for one of these eating disorders, some adults and children with ADHD present with dysregulated, impulsive eating disorder behaviors and there is a growing association between ADHD, obesity, and binge-eating behavior in both children and adults. The relationship between ADHD and binge eating is novel, supported by growing evidence and worthy of further research. We will review the underlying neurobiological underpinnings, neuroimaging data, and possible psychopharmacological treatment options, which target both ADHD and binge-eating behaviors as well as future research and treatment directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)402-412
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent Treatment Options in Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Binge eating
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Eating disorder
  • Loss of control eating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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