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Association of Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder with Physical Activity, Media Time, and Food Intake in Children and Adolescents
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Author: Andreas W. A. van Egmond-Fröhlich et al.

by Andreas W. A. van Egmond-Fröhlich, Daniel Weghuber, Martina de Zwaan


The aim of the study was to assess the association between attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and potentially obesogenic behaviors.


Data of 11,676 German children and adolescents (6–17 years) were analyzed. Television/video exposure, physical activity, food frequency and portion size were assessed using questionnaires. A dietary quality index, energy density and volumes of consumed food, and total energy intake were calculated. The parent-rated hyperactivity/inattention subscale of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ-HI) was used as a continuous measure of ADHD symptoms. Associations were analyzed with general linear models adjusting for sex, age, socioeconomic status, migrant status, parental BMI, and parental smoking.


SDQ-HI scores correlated positively with physical activity, average energy density of food, volume of beverages, total energy intake, and television exposure and negatively with the nutritional quality score (HuSKY) even after adjustment for parental variables (BMI, smoking, socioeconomic status, migrant status), age, sex, as well as the other SDQ subscales. The adjusted association of the SDQ-HI scores with the nutritional quality score was stronger in girls and the associations with food volume, food energy, and total energy intake was significant only in girls.


Poor nutritional quality, high energy intake and television exposure appear to be independently associated with ADHD symptoms. The relationship between food energy intake and ADHD symptoms was especially pronounced in girls and this may help to explain the reported association of ADHD symptoms with overweight in adolescent girls.