The relationship between anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and suicidality in college students

Ashley Schiros, Kevin M. Antshel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: This study aimed to assess the association between anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and associated impairments (e.g., suicidality). Methods: A secondary data analysis of the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment IIc (Fall 2015–Spring 2019) was conducted to assess the prevalence of comorbid anorexia or bulimia + ADHD, symptoms, and impairments among college student (N = 342,432; Mage = 20.39, SD = 1.88). Logistic regressions were used to compare eating disorder symptomology, treatment utilisation, and suicidality among college students. Results: Compared to college students without ADHD, college students with ADHD were 18.30× more likely to be diagnosed with anorexia or bulimia and reported greater use of weight loss techniques (p's < 0.001). College students with comorbid anorexia or bulimia + ADHD reported higher rates of dieting to lose weight (aOR = 1.27, 95% CI: 1.12, 1.43, p < 0.001) and treatment utilisation (aOR = 1.30, 95% CI: 1.06, 1.50, p < 0.001) compared to college students with AN or BN only. The highest level of suicidality was reported in college students with the comorbid AN or BN + ADHD. Conclusion: Elevated eating disorder symptoms and comorbidity is found among college students with ADHD. Increased screening and prevention for anorexia and bulimia is needed among young adults with ADHD to enhance care for those with these eating disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEuropean Eating Disorders Review
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • ADHD
  • anorexia
  • bulimia
  • college students
  • eating disorders
  • suicidality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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