Children With Autism Found to Have Higher Risk for Obesity

Teenage overweight girl sits at a bench in a gym.
Obesity seen in 22 percent of children with autism spectrum disorders.

HealthDay News — Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) appear to increase the risk for childhood obesity, according to a review published online Oct. 8 in Obesity Reviews.

Chanaka N. Kahathuduwa, MD, from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to identify studies that reported prevalence of overweight and/or obesity in children with ASD and matched groups of neurotypical children.

The researchers identified 35 studies that were included in the meta-analysis. The prevalence of obesity was 22.2 percent among children with ASD. There was a 41 percent greater risk for developing obesity among children with ASD. Positive moderators of the association between ASD and prevalence of overweight or obesity included non-Caucasian race, increasing age, female sex, and living in the United States.

“Increased awareness of this association may allow the implementation of early interventions to reduce obesity and prevent potential deterioration of quality of life in this population,” the authors write.

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