Binge Eating Disorder and ADHD

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BED (Binge Eating Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are two separate clinical conditions, but they can co-occur in individuals. The comorbidity rates of BED and ADHD vary across studies, but some estimates suggest that there may be a higher prevalence of ADHD among individuals with BED compared to the general population.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies published between 2001 and 2017 found that the prevalence of ADHD in individuals with BED was 19.3% (95% CI: 14.1-24.9%), which was significantly higher than the prevalence of ADHD in the general population (around 5-8%). Another systematic review and meta-analysis of studies published between 1990 and 2018 found a slightly higher prevalence of ADHD in individuals with BED (23.5%; 95% CI: 17.5-30.5%).

It is important to note that these estimates are based on studies with different sample sizes, assessment tools, and diagnostic criteria, and may not be representative of all individuals with BED and ADHD. Furthermore, the causal relationship between BED and ADHD is not fully understood and requires further investigation.

Overall, while the overlap between BED and ADHD can vary, some evidence suggests that individuals with BED may have a higher prevalence of ADHD compared to the general population. It is important for healthcare providers to assess for both conditions when evaluating individuals presenting with symptoms of either condition

Testing for ADHD

You may not realize this, however BodyMatters already provides assessment services, including testing for ADHD. Some possible reasons why people with BED should be tested for ADHD include:

  1. Similarities in symptoms: Both BED and ADHD share some common symptoms, such as impulsivity and poor self-regulation. Individuals with ADHD may struggle with controlling their impulses, which can lead to binge eating behavior.
  2. Increased risk for comorbidity: Individuals with ADHD are at a higher risk for developing other mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. This can increase the risk for developing BED as well.
  3. Treatment implications: If an individual with BED also has ADHD, it may impact the type of treatment that is most effective for them. For example, medication used to treat ADHD may also be helpful in reducing binge eating behaviors.

If you are concerned you may have ADHD, please discuss this with your treating clinician who can provide some initial screening. Testing for ADHD may also help identify the most effective treatment approach for individuals with both conditions.

If you have ADHD, might you also have BED?

Similarly, given this overlap, if you have ADHD and are concerned about your relationship with food, you may also wish to explore whether you do have BED. A simple screening tool is the Binge Eating Disorder Screener-7 which can be accessed here

If you already have BED and would like to be tested for ADHD, please get in touch so that we can organise an assessment. Similarly, if you have ADHD and are concerned you may have BED, please reach out to us as we would love the opportunity to support you. You can contact our friendly team via our website or by phoning 02 9908 3833. 

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