The longitudinal association of eating behaviour and ADHD symptoms in school age children: a follow-up study in the RHEA cohort

V. Leventakou*, M. Herle, M. Kampouri, K. Margetaki, M. Vafeiadi, M. Kogevinas, L. Chatzi, N. Micali

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Previous evidence suggests a link between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and disordered eating behaviours; however, the direction of the causal association remains unclear. Building on our previous research, we aimed to examine the longitudinal association between eating behaviours at 4 years, ADHD symptoms at 6 years of age, and the role of body mass index (BMI). We included children from the RHEA mother-child cohort in Greece, followed up at 4 and 6 years (n = 926). Parents completed the Children's Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (CEBQ) to assess children's eating behaviour at 4 years and the ADHD Test (ADHDT) and Child Behaviour Checklist for ages 6-18 (CBCL/6-18) to evaluate ADHD symptoms at 4 and 6 years, respectively, as well as measures of BMI. Longitudinal structural equation modeling (SEM) was carried out to evaluate the associations of all variables between 4 and 6 years. Food responsiveness at 4 years was positively associated with hyperactivity at age 6, whereas emotional overeating was negatively associated with hyperactivity. There was no evidence of an association between eating behaviours of preschoolers and BMI at 6 years, or BMI at 4 years and later ADHD symptoms and vice versa. Findings suggest that food responsiveness is an early marker of ADHD symptoms at 6 years of age. In contrast to our hypothesis there was no significant association between ADHD at age 4 and BMI at age 6.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-517
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number3
Early online date18 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • adhd
  • childhood
  • eating behaviour
  • longitudinal
  • ADHD
  • Longitudinal
  • Childhood
  • Eating behaviour

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