Autism Latest News & Updates: New Study Discovers The Prevalence Of Obesity Among Children And Teens With ASD

By KJ Williams, Parent Herald October 19, 04:33 am

Obesity has long been a problem in the society, affecting more kids and teenagers. In the United States, one in six children and adolescents is reportedly obese.

In a recent epidemiological study published online in Childhood Obesity, researchers from Tufts University School of Medicine found that children and teens with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more likely to be obese during adolescence compared to non-ASD kids. Based on the email sent to Parent Herald, the study was spearheaded by Morton A. Madoff professor and Boston's Tufts School of Medicine public health and community medicine Dr. Aviva Must.

In the study, experts found the rate of obesity remains steady with children ages 10 to 17 who are suffering from ASD versus the decreasing rate in children who are not suffering from autism. It was also revealed that there was no significant increase in the prevalence of obesity prevalence children with ASD. Unfortunately, the prevalence of obesity in non-ASD children was reduced by 50 percent.

The Tufts University School of Medicine research also highlighted obesity discrepancies by gender and by race. Researchers observed that obesity in kids with ASD is more prevalent in boys than in girls over their adolescent stage.

In connection with race and ethnicity, obesity is more predominant in white, non-Hispanic children with ASD. Childhood obesity may have long term health effects for people suffering from ASD. Experts stressed several factors should be tested for their potential role in maintaining the obesity rate observed with the school.

According to Linda Bandini, Ph.D., associate professor at UMass Medical School's Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center and department of health sciences, Boston University and director of the HWRN, these factors to consider with obesity in children with autism are: sensory sensitivity, the need for routine or sameness, behavioral rigidity, use of food as a reward, mealtime and parental stresses. Bandini also added that "exercise for many teens comes in the form of competitive sports, in which children with developmental disabilities are less likely to take part."

Meanwhile, further research and qualitative approaches could be done to better understand the influence of behavioral and sociodemographic factors on the prevalence of obesity among children with ASD. The latest study came after initial reports show that children with developmental disabilities, which include ASD, have higher risk of being obese.

"Children with developmental disabilities face unique challenges and are not always served by health interventions aimed at those without disorders such as ASD," Must said. "The complexity of their medical needs is both why particular attention should be paid to their circumstances and why it is difficult to do so."

What are your thoughts about the prevalence of obesity in children with autism? Sound off below and follow Parent Herald for more news and updates.

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