Does Obesity Affect School Performance? Is the Research Flawed?

A friend referred me to an article at CNN relating obesity to poor performance in school. In the pontificating on the relationship,  issues relating to food additives, diet, poverty and parenting are discussed. Of course every one of these is easy to blame, difficult to evaluate and almost impossible to cure.  Not one person in the article or comments  linked ADHD to obesity perhaps because many do not consider ADHD a real disease. 

Before I even begin to discuss the connection. I would like to point out that ADHD is a neurological condition that can be observed with an MRI. The brain is slightly deformed similar to blunt force trauma and there is a lack of activity in the frontal area. ADHD is recognized as a medical condition by the National Institutes of Health, the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and every other major professional medical, psychiatric and psychological association or organization.

The connection with obesity is extremely strong and from conjecture it is almost a direct symptom of adult ADHD.  What is know is that about 30 percent (27%-33%) of obese people have ADHD and the worse the obesity, the worse the percentage of ADHD. Perhaps as many as half of the people who are Morbidly Obese have ADHD.  This research has been emerging and published since about 2002 or for a decade. Now the exact number of treated and untreated adults with ADHD is difficult to measure but has been estimated by Medical Professionals to be as low as 4% or as high as 16%.

Let’s take a closer look at the data by starting with low estimates for both obesity and ADHD combined. If only 27% of Obese adults have ADHD and obese people (but not Morbidly Obese)  are only 33% of adults, than that means 9 percent of Adults have ADHD and are obese.  If only 3% are morbidly obese, and 40% have ADHD, thats another 1% with both diseases. Or a minimum of 10 % of the adult population who are have ADHD and are suffering from obesity. That means on the low side twices as many people are struggling with both ADHD and obesity then were believed to even have ADHD and there is no accounting of those who are overweight or those who beat the odds and maintain a normal weight.  If the numbers for ADHD are 33% and 50% respectively for both groups, then the minimum number of adult suffering from ADHD and Obesity rises to about 13% or almost equal to the highest estimates for adult ADHD and only works if mostof the adults with ADHD are actually obese or Morbidly Obese.

Simple question: Is it the obesity that cause poor school performance or the inability to focus because of ADD or ADHD?

Any experiment which ignores this direct link between obesity and ADHD must be considered to be flawed at best because if you can cure the ADHD, then you cure a third of the obesity cases in America overnight. Stimulants do not cure ADHD, they are used to control it.

In this post ADHD is used in the clinical sense to describe both ADD and ADHD.


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