Drug given to hyperactive children could help obese adults lose weight
By Pat Hagan
Last updated at 8:02 AM on 07th April 2009
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Ritalin, the drug used to treat hyperactive children, could hold the key to solving Britain's growing obesity crisis, according to research.
It shows as many as one in three severely obese adults who fail to lose weight through diet and exercise do so because they have undiagnosed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
But once their condition has been treated with Ritalin or similar drugs, their dieting success rates improve dramatically.
Now doctors behind the latest findings are calling for those with severe weight problems to be screened for ADHD before they are even put on a diet. They claim a chemical imbalance in the brain caused by hidden ADHD robs patients of the willpower needed to shed excess fat.
Many will have suffered ADHD symptoms since childhood but will never have been diagnosed, they say.
The findings, published in the International Journal of Obesity, are likely to cause controversy over whether failure to lose weight is due to a lack of determination or an underlying medical condition.
A recent study warned that one in three adults in the UK will be obese by 2012.
Dietitians usually recommend low-calorie foods and regular exercise as the first line of attack against obesity. But it's estimated that around 80 per cent of severely obese patients fail to achieve their target weight by changing eating habits and lifestyle.