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Pediatric loss of control eating syndrome: Association with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and impulsivity.

Reinblatt SP, Mahone EM, Tanofsky-Kraff M, Lee-Winn AE, Yenokyan G, Leoutsakos JM, Moran TH, Guarda AS, Riddle MA. (2015) Int J Eat Disord.   doi: 10.1002/eat.22404. [Epub ahead of print] 

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Despite data linking Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and adult binge eating, there are limited data in children with loss of control (LOC) eating. We examined inhibitory control in children with LOC eating syndrome (LOC-ES) and its association with ADHD.


79 children (8-14 years) over the fifth weight percentile were recruited, irrespective of LOC eating or ADHD status. The Eating Disorder Examination for Children and the Standard Pediatric Eating Episode Interview assessed LOC-ES. ADHD diagnosis was determined by the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for children and Conners-3 (Parent Report) DSM-IV Scales of Inattention and/or Hyperactivity (T score>65). The Go/No-Go (GNG) Task and the Behavior Regulation Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) assessed impulse control.


Odds of LOC-ES were increased 12 times for children with ADHD (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 12.68, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.11, 51.64, p < 0.001), after adjusting for BMI z scores and relevant covariates.  Children had 1.17 times higher odds of reporting LOC-ES with every 5% increase in GNG Commission Rate (aOR = 1.17, CI = 1.01, 1.36, p < 0.05) and 1.25 times higher odds of reporting LOC-ES with every 5 unit T-score increase in BRIEF Inhibit Scale (aOR = 1.25, CI = 1.04, 1.50, p < 0.05).


Children with ADHD had significantly greater odds of LOC-ES compared to children without ADHD. Children with LOC-ES had significantly greater impulse control deficits on performance-based neuropsychological assessments and on parent reports than children without LOC-ES. These findings suggest a need to investigate possible shared mechanisms such as impulse control deficits, among children with LOC-ES and ADHD.


In this study, 'loss of control' eating was found to be far more common in children with ADHD than those without this condition - and linked with measures of impulsivity.  

These findings are consistent with reported associations between ADHD and binge eating disorders in adults, and between ADHD and obesity. 

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