ADHD Medication and Obesity: Causal or Coincidence


Medical studies in the past have linked hyper-activity disorders to smoking and drug abuse, and now the argument is being made that medication is leading to obesity, even years after the child has taken it.  The question whether this is a valid scientific inquiry or if the evidence itself is being altered by the subjectivity of the scientists involved with the study remains to be seen, because trying to distinguish between a causal link and statistical coincidence is an incredibly complicated process involving numerous investigations from different sources, which is not currently available on this matter.

What is known is that Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health performed a 13 year study and they are still shrugging their shoulders about what it means.  The human brain is so utterly complicated that they have no way of processing information that deals with the processing of information, ironically, and therefore the system of inquiry is actually talking to itself and nothing more.  The first fact that should be considered is that this study lasted 13 years, so whatever the findings are, they must be important or the entire effort was a waste of time.  This is the first reason to skew their findings, because the scientists themselves were confused about ADHD medications that are technically stimulants designed to elicit neurochemistry that regulates the conduction of bioelectricity.  The invalidation process of these findings results due to the fact that different physiologies react in drastically different ways to the exact same medicine.  A stimulant for one person becomes depressive for another, a painkiller for one person becomes an anxiolytic for someone else.  For doctors to say that they “should have” gotten certain results makes them sound ignorant about the nature of their careers.

The researchers at John Hopkins studied 163,000 children from ages 3 to 18 for a period of 13 years while tracking their medical treatments and weight.  For kids with ADHD who were medicated, their BMIs (body mass index) remained slightly below that of peers who were treated with non-drug therapies and those who either did not have ADHD or were not treated for it.  Stimulants are known to inhibit growth, but what surprised the researchers was the evidence of BMI rebound after the discontinuation of medication, indicating that their study is essentially flawed or that children’s brains are being affected in mysterious ways by prescription drugs that continue to alter their neurochemistry for years beyond the diagnosis.

For whatever reason, this idea does not frighten the scientists despite the notion that they are telling us that they do not understand what these drugs will do to our children, being that every person’s body is different, they do not know what side effects will be detrimental to the point of health risks, and they do not know what happens to the brain after the drugs are no longer in the system.  They are showing us their underbellies and the weakness of their entire “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” field of medicine.

The study reports that by age 13, those who took the drugs were putting on weight compared to those who did not, and it also shows that the younger the children were when they first took the medication, the more weight they gained later on.  The viewpoints of the scientists become egregious, because though the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests behavior therapy for young children who are diagnosed with ADHD, a study earlier this year revealed that 1 in 5 specialists had prescribed medications for preschoolers.

This issue is not about ADHD meds, that argument is just a sideshow of data being fed to prescription companies so that they can calculate a simple risk-assessment on continuing to manufacture these drugs while avoiding lawsuits.  The real situation is the overly prescribed nature of medication in the first place for the intent of turning an entire generation of Americans into codependent financiers of pharmaceutical companies who twist the medical profession meant to do no harm into field testing for chemicals that disfigure and contort the very intellectual capacity that makes the human species unique, the brain.

Apparently psychiatrists have jumped so conclusively upon this bandwagon as to have chosen to become traitors to the American people while spoon-feeding them chemicals that they know are not understood completely, all under the auspicious guise of trying to help.  This specific case is glowing amid television commercials of more ambulance-chasers bringing lawsuits against major pharmaceutical companies for Risperdal and its capacity to cause young males to grow female breasts.  These issues may be as localized as bureaucrats can make them, but the individual problems with these drugs and those like it are crying out for a new look at the epidemic of prescription drugs in America.

The abuse of medication is now a top public health concern, as the number of drug overdose deaths has doubled for 29 states after 1999.  Prescription drug-related deaths now overshadow those from cocaine and heroin combined, and drug overdoses now outnumber motor vehicle deaths in 29 states, a statistic that costs the US $53.4 billion a year in medical and criminal justice bills.  Currently, only one in 10 Americans with a substance abuse disorder receives treatment.

Commonly abused classes of prescription drugs include opioids for pain, central nervous system depressants for anxiety and sleep disorders, and stimulants for ADHD.  The most prevalent opioids include Duragesic, Vicodin, Oxycontin, Opana, Darvon, Dilaudid, Demerol, and Lomotil, popular CNS depressants include Nembutal, Valium, and Xanax, and widespread stimulants include Dexedrine, Ritalin, and Adderall.  The Partnership at and the MetLife Foundation discovered that one in four teens has abused a prescription drug at least once, which is a 33 percent increase over the past five years, and 13 percent report that they have taken Adderall or Ritalin without a prescription.

Contributing to this sustained trend in teen medicine misuse are the lax attitudes and beliefs of parents and caregivers.  Nearly one-third of parents say that they believe prescription stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin can actually improve a teen’s academic performance, even if they do not have ADHD, and 16 percent of parents believe that using prescription drugs to get high is safer than using street drugs.  With these statistics there is no reference point for causal or coincidental side effects because the haphazard use of the medication has no other purpose than what is essentially recreation.  Weight problems and obesity are issues that most Americans are dealing with, but the arguments for better health should be rationally based and not follow the impatience of pill popping to achieve a desired result.  Tribal life for hunter-gatherers was short and painful, so people seek to escape that memory of pain with short-sighted tactics that overlook how life has turned from a sprint into a long distance marathon in which everything done eventually comes back to them in one form or another.

Parents are not communicating the dangers of abuse to their kids, nor are they safeguarding their medications at home and disposing of unused medications properly.  More than half of teens indicate that it is easy to get prescription drugs from their parent’s medicine cabinet, and 42 percent say that they have misused a prescription drug obtained directly from their parent’s medicine cabinet.  Most alarming is the statistic that 20 percent of parents actually report that they have given their teen a prescription drug that was not prescribed for them.  People tend to believe that because they are legally distributed that pharmaceutical drugs are somehow less dangerous than illicit ones, and due to the readily accessible nature of these toxic chemicals and the ease in hiding abuse compared to residual tell-tale signs of other addictions like the smell of alcohol, people of all ages believe that they have extensive moral freedom to use them.

In the process people have to ignore the constant barrage of new commercials informing us about drugs coming onto the marketplace that are quickly followed by advertisements about class-action lawsuits for past drugs that have proven to do more harm than good.  Every doctor took the Hippocratic Oath against such a thing, and despite knowing that every individual human’s physiology is variable, they do not care that whatever benefits a drug might accomplish for even a large percentage of the population is going to be extremely detrimental to a small fraction, regardless of what precautions are taken, and effectively they turn their oaths into hypocrisy.

With the extreme financial punches that pharmaceutical companies face with these lawsuits, it might be confusing why they bother going into this business at all, but nobody has to look far.  Prescriptions in 2012 for the top 11 global drug companies resulted in nearly $85 billion in net profits.  With governmental power easily swayed by lobbyists, we also don’t have to wonder how these companies are being legally shielded from prosecution.

There is a lackadaisical attitude in the US because it is expected that science and technology will make living easier, so if offered a better life in pill form, most Americans are going to try it.  This, however, does not carry weight against the fact that antidepressants turn more people into zombies or cause their symptoms to become worse than those who are helped, and in any case a change in neurochemistry is rarely the source of any human’s misery compared to alterations in lifestyle and general decision-making that people cannot develop when they are too busy putting their problems on someone else’s head, expecting doctors and psychiatrists to fix what people will not take the time and effort to handle for themselves.

This is not desperation, people are not clamoring to reduce their cholesterol for any other reason than doctors telling them that they should, and the biggest joke about prescription medication is that trial and error is absolutely overlooked.  They try a specific drug with a patient and roll the dice to see what effects it has, and in finding out that a painkiller might also have an antidepressant result, they pass that discovery on so that others can partake in the chemical bath of neural reconfiguration that now takes the place of actual intrapersonal healing.

The US has been turned into a collective research program that treats citizens as lab rats for furthering unqualified subjective arguments on paper.  This discussion is not about the causal or coincidental link to the unnatural state of civilization in which we have everything we want at our fingertips, thereby allowing us to take it all for granted, because the research done by Johns Hopkins University never adequately touched upon the psychology of compulsive behavior found in people with ADHD.  Most of the prescription drugs in question are completely unnecessary, being that most Americans lived without them up until a generation ago, so the question still stands concerning how much we care for our children’s well-being, because whether we are dealing with ADHD or obesity or depression or anxiety, the abuse of prescription medicine and the notion of careful lifestyle choices clearly begins and ends with parents.


Opinion By Elijah Stephens



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