Obesity More Common Among Kids With Special Needs
Children with disabilities and special health care needs are more likely to be overweight or obese than their typically developing peers, according to a first-of-its-kind federal report.
Over 36 percent of kids ages 10 to 17 with special needs are overweight or obese compared to about 30 percent of other children. And the likelihood that a boy or girl will struggle with weight appears to increase with the severity of the child’s condition.
The findings come from a report released this week by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration looking at how children with special health care needs are faring as compared to their peers. It’s based on a 2007 survey of parents of more than 90,000 kids from across the country.
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Overall, the report found that roughly 14 to 19 percent of U.S. children have a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional condition.
In addition to a greater incidence of obesity, these kids were also more than twice as likely to have repeated a grade in school and to have a parent who reported “usually or always” feeling stressed, the report found.
The survey covered nearly all aspects of a child’s well-being, looking at everything from home to school life. Both national and state-specific data was analyzed for the report.
Researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, which produced the report for the federal government, say the findings are critical for identifying needs going forward.
“It allows us to measure children’s health, well-being and health care system performance in the context of their family, home, community and school environments — and to compare across many subgroups of children within and across states,” said Christina Bethell, a professor of pediatrics at the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine. “This information is important to identify priorities and opportunities for improving children’s health and health care in the United States.”