Katharine E. Zuckerman
Study Aims and Objectives
To study the prevalence and risk factors for overweight and obesity within a population of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Methods- Sample, Procedure, Study Measures, Analysis
376 children diagnosed with ASD were recruited from Oregon Health & Science University, an Autism Treatment Network Site. Information was gathered about body mass index, sociodemographic factors, and cognitive and behavioral functioning. Data was also gathered about autism severity, current ASD treatments, and co-occurring illnesses that may be present within participants.
Results- Main Findings
18% of children with ASD were overweight, and 17% were obese. It was found that sociodemographic factors and ASD severity were unrelated to overweight or obesity status. There was also no difference in obesity or overweight rates when medication use was considered. Children who were overweight or obese had significantly higher rates of sleep issues, with obese children citing more severe sleep problems compared to overweight children.
Conclusion- Summary Statement
Obesity is common among children with ASD. Children with ASD may have additional risk factors that could contribute to the prevalence and occurrence of overweight and obesity. Determining risk factors that are specific to ASD is essential in learning how to prevent and address weight health risks for this population. Understanding the way that co-occurring issues such as sleep interact with a child’s weight and ability to remain healthy are critical, and more research needs to be done to understand ways to best mitigate these risks.