Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms and psychological comorbidity in eating disorder patients

  • L. SalaEmail author
  • G. Martinotti
  • M. L. Carenti
  • L. Romo
  • M. Oumaya
  • A. Pham-Scottez
  • F. Rouillon
  • P. Gorwood
  • L. Janiri
Original Article



There is some evidence that eating disorders (ED) and Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) share common clinical features and that ADHD might contribute to the severity of eating disorders. A greater understanding of how the presence of comorbid ADHD may affect the psychopathological framework of eating disorder seems of primary importance. The aim of our study was to evaluate rates of ADHD in three ED subgroups of inpatients: anorexia nervosa restricting type (AN-R), anorexia nervosa binge-eating/purging type (AN-BP) and bulimia nervosa (BN). The secondary aim was the evaluation of the associated psychological characteristics.


The sample consisted of 73 females inpatients (mean age 28.07 ± 7.30), all with longstanding histories of eating disorder (ED). The presence of a diagnosis of ADHD was evaluated in a clinical interview based on DSM-IV-TR criteria. The following psychometric instruments were used: the eating attitude test (EAT-40), the Bulimic Investigatory Test, Edinburgh (BITE), the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI-2), the Wender Utah Rating Scale (WURS), the Brown Attention Deficit Disorder Scale (BADDS), the Hamilton scales for Anxiety (HAM-A) and Depression (HAM-D), and the Barrat Impulsivity Scale (BIS-10).


Among the three ED subgroups, 13 patients reported comorbidity with ADHD; three in the AN-R subtype, nine in the AN-BP and one in the BN. The remaining 60 patients (n = 34 AN-R; n = 19 AN-BP; n = 7 BN) presented only a diagnosis of ED. The EAT (p = 0.04) and HAM-A (p = 0.02) mean scores were significantly higher in patients with comorbid ADHD.


In our study the comorbidity between ADHD and ED appeared to be frequent, particularly among patients with AN-BP. ED inpatients with higher level of anxiety and more abnormal eating attitudes and bulimic symptoms should be assessed for potentially associated ADHD.


Anorexia nervosa Bulimia nervosa Eating disorders Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Sala
    • 1
    Email author
  • G. Martinotti
    • 2
  • M. L. Carenti
    • 3
  • L. Romo
    • 1
  • M. Oumaya
    • 1
  • A. Pham-Scottez
    • 1
  • F. Rouillon
    • 1
  • P. Gorwood
    • 1
  • L. Janiri
    • 3
  1. 1.Clinic of Mental Illnesses and Brain Disorders, Sainte-Anne HospitalUniversity Paris V René DescartesParis Cedex 14France
  2. 2.Department of Neuroscience and Imaging‘Gabriele d’Annunzio’ UniversityChietiItaly
  3. 3.Institute of Psychiatry and PsychologyCatholic UniversityRomeItaly

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