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Is there an overlap between eating disorders and neurodevelopmental disorders in children with obesity?

Journal article
Authors Elisabet Wentz
Anna Björk
Jovanna Dahlgren
Published in Nutrients
Volume 11
Issue 10
ISSN 2072-6643
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Pediatrics
Language en
Subject categories Psychiatry, Pediatrics


This study aimed at assessing the prevalence of eating disorders (EDs) and ED symptomatology in children with obesity, and at investigating whether EDs occur more often among individuals with a comorbid attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Seventy-six children (37 girls, 39 boys, age 5–16 years) were recruited at an outpatient obesity clinic. The adolescents completed ED instruments including The Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q) and The Eating Disorder Inventory for children (EDI-C). The parents of all participants were interviewed regarding the child’s psychiatric morbidity. Diagnoses of ADHD and ASD were collected from medical records. Anthropometric data were compiled. Eight participants (11%) fulfilled the criteria for a probable ED and 16 participants (21%) had ADHD and/or ASD. Two adolescent girls had a probable ED and coexistent ADHD and ASD. No other overlaps between EDs and ADHD/ASD were observed. Loss of control (LOC) eating was present in 26 out of 40 (65%) adolescents, seven of whom had ADHD, ASD or both. LOC eating was not overrepresented among teenagers with ADHD and/or ASD. Weight and shape concerns were on a par with age-matched adolescents with EDs. EDs and ED behavior are more common among children/adolescents with obesity than in the general population. There is no substantial overlap between EDs and ADHD/ASD in adolescents with obesity.

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