Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Health

First Advisor's Name

Nasar U. Ahmed

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Miguel A. Cano

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Kristopher P. Fennie

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Boubakari Ibrahimou

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


ADHD, Overweight, Impulsivity, Inattention, Exercise, Obesity

Date of Defense



Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obesity both present a significant burden to the health of children and adolescents. Research suggests a possible association between ADHD and obesity. This dissertation focused on examining the association between ADHD and obesity, and the roles physical activity, sedentary behavior, gender, and medication might play in this relationship.

The first manuscript is a review of the literature examining research on the association between ADHD and obesity in children and adolescents. The search included studies that reported on the prevalence of obesity among those with ADHD, the prevalence of ADHD among those who are obese, clinical studies comparing those with ADHD versus non-ADHD, and the association if any between ADHD, obesity, physical activity, eating behavior, medication, and gender. The search resulted in 657 studies, 233 after duplicates removed and 31 after screening. The studies suggested that there is a significant association between ADHD and obesity. Further, behavioral symptoms of ADHD, such as inattention and impulsivity might contribute to decreased physical activity, increased sedentary time, and dis-regulated eating. In addition, research indicated that medication possibly moderates the relationship between ADHD and body mass index BMI via a biophysical effect on the catecholamingeric system.

The second manuscript is an original study testing a model assessing the mediating effects of ADHD on physical activity, sedentary behavior, and BMI. The study sample consisted of 3,788 adolescents ages 11-17 from the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health. Structural equation modeling was used to test the path associations. The model fit the data well, [RMSEA]=.043; [CFI]=.937; [TLI]= .889, and [SRMR]=.025. The total effect for ADHD was 0.073 and was significant. ADHD severity plays a role in increasing BMI status, working through physical activity and sedentary behavior.

The third manuscript is another original study assessing moderating effects of gender and medication on the relationship between ADHD and BMI. The model fit the data well for gender and medication [RMSEA]=0.052; [CFI]=0.850; [TLI]=0.775; [RMSEA]=0.053; [CFI]=0.825; [TLI]=0.715. Although the total effect for ADHD on BMI was significant, medication and gender did not moderate this relationship. Also, medication did not moderate the relationship between physical activity, sedentary behavior and ADHD severity.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Included in

Public Health Commons



Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).