Children with Disabilities and Obesity


Obesity has been officially classified as a disease in the United States, which augments the need for adherence to healthy diets and exercise interventions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity and overweight are defined as “labels for ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height,” which are commonly measured by body mass index (BMI). People with disabilities have been found to be more sedentary than their non-disabled peers (Rimmer et al., 2012), which ultimately increases their risk of obesity and cardiometabolic disease. Researchers, clinicians, and policy-makers have come to understand that a solution towards this epidemic is the incorporation of a physically active lifestyle during childhood and adolescents, which is associated with greater adherence to exercise in adulthood (Malina, 1996; Simonen et al., 2003). Thus, there is high research funding and interest in exercise interventions towards children with disabilities. Causes for obesity have been linked to genetics, poor diet, and a sedentary lifestyle. Obesity in children with disabilities has also been suggested to be associated with socioeconomic status, the BMI of the parents, the parent’s perception and attitudes towards their children’s weight and physical activity, and levels of activity in both parents and children (McGillivray et al., 2013). Though, there is still a current need for research on enjoyable exercise interventions that examine dose-response relationships between exercise and optimal health outcomes in children with different conditions of disabilities.

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