Topical Area: Maternal, Perinatal and Pediatric Nutrition
Objectives : Research suggests that attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is associated with increased obesity in youth likely driven by deficits in self-regulation, increased impulsivity, and abnormal eating behavior. It has been hypothesized that increasing the frequency with which families share meals may mitigate these risk behaviors. However, some families that share frequent meals together may participate in federal nutrition assistance, which has been linked with consuming less healthy foods and with increased risk for obesity. The current study aims to investigate the relationships between ADHD, overweight/obesity, and shared family meals with federal nutrition assistance as a potential moderator.
Methods : Data were drawn from a nationally representative sample of United States youth ages 10-17 whose parent or guardian participated in the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health (N=45,309). All measures were determined based on parent recall. Ordinal regression analyses with moderation were used to evaluate study hypotheses.
Results : As hypothesized, youth with ADHD were more likely to be overweight/obese than those without ADHD (p< .05) and federal nutrition assistance was associated with more overweight/obesity (p< .001). Contrary to study hypotheses, frequent family meals were associated with more, rather than less, overweight/obesity among youth with ADHD (p< .001). Moderation analyses indicate that federal nutrition assistance was more strongly linked to obesity risk for youth with ADHD, than for those without (p< .05). Remarkably, eating more family meals together increased rather than protected against risk for obesity (p< .05) regardless of ADHD status.
Conclusions : The current study presents an unusual finding which is that more frequent family meals were associated with greater risk of obesity in youth with and without ADHD. The authors hypothesize this may be due to the food choices made by families who share frequent meals and also participate in federal nutrition assistance. This work has important implications for federal nutrition assistance policy reform and for the obesity epidemic.
Funding Sources : None.