CDC Finds Obesity Risk Double For Those With Autism
New research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that adolescents with developmental disabilities are significantly more likely than others their age to struggle with weight and those with autism are at greatest risk.
Overall, obesity is 50 percent more common in individuals ages 12 to 17 with developmental disabilities as compared to typically-developing adolescents, according to findings published recently in the Maternal and Child Health Journal. That risk increases to more than double when looking specifically at those with autism.
For the study, researchers at the CDC and the federal government’s Health Resources and Services Administration assessed parent-reported data on more than 9,600 adolescents collected between 2008 and 2010 through the National Health Interview Survey. Of those studied, over 1,400 parents indicated that their child had autism, intellectual disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disability or another developmental delay.
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While about 13 percent of kids and teens without developmental disabilities are obese, the study found that nearly 20 percent of those with intellectual disability and roughly 32 percent of those with autism are severely overweight.
At the same time, researchers also note that those with developmental disabilities are more likely to be underweight than their typically-developing peers. However, findings suggest that at least among adolescents with intellectual disability, the odds of being underweight decreased when researchers factored in whether the individuals weighed little at birth.
The high rate of obesity in adolescents with developmental disabilities is of particular concern, researchers said, because being overweight puts these already vulnerable individuals at risk for other health conditions. What’s more, they said action is needed since there are currently no specific recommendations for preventing obesity among this demographic.