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J Psychosom Res. 2007 Dec;63(6):587-90.

Parent reports of sleep/alertness problems and ADHD symptoms in a sample of obese adolescents.

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Child Neuropsychiatry Unit, Department of Mother-Child and Biology-Genetics, G.B. Rossi Hospital, Verona University, Verona, Italy.



Recent evidence suggests an association between obesity and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or ADHD traits. The characteristics of obese subjects with a higher probability of ADHD symptoms are still unclear. We explore the hypothesis that obese adolescents with sleep/alertness problems represent a subgroup at high risk for ADHD traits, independently from associated symptoms of anxiety/depression. The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between parent reports of sleep/alertness problems and ADHD traits in a clinical sample of obese adolescents, controlling for symptoms of anxiety/depression.


Seventy obese subjects (age range, 10-16 years) were included. The parents filled out the Sleep Disturbance Scale for Children (SDSC), the Conners Parents Rating Scale-Revised (Short Version) (CPRS-R:S), and the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). The ADHD Rating Scale (ADHD-RS) was completed by a child psychiatrist.


Using multiple regression models controlling for symptoms of anxiety/depression, scores of excessive daytime sleepiness on the SDSC were significantly associated with ADHD traits on the CPRS-R:S as well as on the ADHD-RS.


Obese adolescents described as excessively sleepy by their parents may be at higher risk of ADHD symptoms, independently from symptoms of anxiety/depression. Although the clinician may overlook a potential diagnosis of ADHD in obese adolescents described as sleepy, the results of this study suggest to systematically look for symptoms of ADHD in this subgroup of obese patients. Further studies using objective methods to assess sleep/alertness disturbances are needed to gain insight into the relationship between sleep/alertness disturbances and ADHD in obese individuals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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