The Challenge of Obesity In Children With Physical Disabilities

special needs kidsPreventing and managing excess weight is hard enough in able-bodied adults.

Imagine the challenges of addressing this issue in kids, especially those with physical disabilities.

Just how difficult this problem is and how largely ineffective current behavioural approaches to dealing with this issue are is nicely outlined in a paper by McPherson and colleagues from the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Toronto, published in Disability and Rehabilitation.

This scoping review examined the current evidence on interventions designed to facilitate weight management and/or weight-related behaviors (i.e. physical activity and/or healthy eating habits) in children with physical disabilities.

None of the 34 articles included in the synthesis addressed the issue of long-term obesity prevention.

The majority of research focused upon children with cerebral palsy, and had case study, quasi- or non-experimental designs.

Of the 18 studies that reported positive outcomes, all included physical activity interventions using motivational strategies for the child and child self-direction.

However, none of the studies targeting body weight/composition reported long-term successes.

The authors conclude that we currently lack a robust evidence base for long-lasting obesity interventions for children with physical disabilities.

Given the clear limitations of behavioural interventions in this population, one can only wonder about the efficacy of pharmacological or even surgical obesity treatments, at least for severely obese kids with such disabilities.

I wonder if amy of my readers has any experience with this special population.

Berlin, Germany

ResearchBlogging.orgMcPherson AC, Keith R, & Swift JA (2013). Obesity prevention for children with physical disabilities: a scoping review of physical activity and nutrition interventions. Disability and rehabilitation PMID: 24308905