Obesity and ADHD: Exploring the role of body composition, BMI polygenic risk score, and reward system genes

Thais Martins-Silva, Juliana dos Santos Vaz, Júlia Pasqualini Genro, Mara Helena Hutz, Christian Loret de Mola, Nina Roth Mota, Isabel Oliveira, Denise Petrucci Gigante, Ricardo Tavares Pinheiro, Eduardo Vitola, Eugenio Grevet, Bernardo L. Horta, Luis Augusto Rohde, Luciana Tovo-Rodrigues

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13 Scopus citations


The association between obesity and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been extensively reported in the literature. However, the potential mechanisms underlying this association are not completely understood. This study aimed to evaluate the association between body composition and ADHD and explore the possible genetic mechanisms involved. We used data from the 1982 Pelotas (Brazil) Birth Cohort at age 30-year follow-up (N = 3630). We first used logistic regression analysis to test whether body mass index (BMI), fat mass (FM), and fat-free mass (FFM) were associated with ADHD. We further tested the association between BMI polygenic risk score (BMI-PRS) and ADHD and the role of the genes upregulated in the reward system using a gene-set association approach. BMI (odds ratio [OR] = 1.05; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.00–1.09; p = 0.038) and FM (OR = 1.04; 95% CI, 1.00–1.07; p = 0.043) were associated with ADHD. The BMI-PRS was associated with ADHD (using p-value threshold (PT) = 0.4; OR = 1.65; 95% CI, 1.02–2.65) at a nominal level. In gene-set analysis, the reward system genes were associated with BMI in subjects with a high BMI-PRS score, considering PT = 0.4 (p = 0.014). The results suggest that BMI genetic components, especially those genes related to the reward system, may be involved in this association.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-536
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Body composition
  • Genetics


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