Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
October 07, 2020
2 min read

ADHD increases odds of diabetes independent of BMI

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Likelihood of developing diabetes was increased by 50% among adults with diagnosed ADHD compared with those without ADHD, according to national health survey data published in the Journal of Diabetes.

“So far, although ADHD is known to be associated with various neuropsychiatric comorbidities in adults, limited evidence is available regarding its association with physical health outcomes in adults,” Guifeng Xu, a PhD candidate in epidemiology and graduate research assistant at the University of Iowa Attachment and Neurodevelopment Lab, and colleagues wrote. “In a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults, we found a significant and positive association between ADHD and diabetes. This association persisted after adjustment for demographic and socioeconomic variables, lifestyle variables and BMI.”

Diabetes Words 2019
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Researchers analyzed data collected by the National Health Interview Survey from its 2007 and 2012 cycles, the two cycles in which questions about ADHD were included. Diagnoses of ADHD and diabetes were confirmed during in-person household interviews in which participating adults were asked whether a doctor had ever diagnosed them with either condition. Information on age, sex, ethnicity, education, family income and lifestyle were collected via a questionnaire during the interview.

Of 52,821 adult participants (48.6% men; mean age, 45.5 years), 1,642 confirmed they had ADHD and 4,631 said they had been diagnosed with diabetes. After adjusting for age, sex and ethnicity, participants with a history of ADHD were more likely to have diabetes compared with those without ADHD (OR = 1.68; 95% CI, 1.23-2.28). Adults with a history of ADHD were still more likely to have diabetes after education, family income, smoking status, alcohol drinking, physical activity and BMI were factored in (OR = 1.54; 95 CI, 1.16-2.04). The association between ADHD and diabetes was not changed by age, sex, ethnicity or obesity status.

“This finding indicates that ADHD may be a novel risk factor for diabetes,” the researchers wrote. “If this finding is replicated and confirmed in future studies, individuals with ADHD may warrant early screening and prevention for diabetes.”

Researchers noted that biological pathways connecting ADHD and diabetes still must be determined. A meta-analysis of 42 other studies showed ADHD was associated with higher odds of obesity in children and women. However, the association between ADHD and diabetes was unchanged when BMI was factored into the analysis in this study.

“An increasing body of evidence has supported the role of inflammation in neuropsychiatric disorders including ADHD,” the researchers wrote. “A previous study reported that ADHD patients had increased serum levels of inflammatory marker interleukin-6, which has been associated with increased risk of diabetes. ... The effects of ADHD medications on glucose metabolism and diabetes risk in humans warrant further investigation.”