The rate of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years has more than tripled over the past three decades, and the rate among children ages 6 to 11 years has more than doubled. While that sounds like a staggering figure (and it should), consider that the rates of obesity are even worse among children and adolescents with disabilities. In a paper published by Alex Chen and coworkers (Obesity 2009;18, 210-213), researchers examining height, weight, and Body Mass Index (BMI) on almost 47,000 children between the ages of 10 and 17 years from the National Survey of Children's Health reported significantly higher rates of obesity among youth with special health care needs. As you can see from the graph, youth with developmental disabilities (DD), learning disabilities (LD), autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) had nearly twice the rate of obesity compared to non-disabled youth.
|A bar graph showing the prevalence of obesity among children ages 10-17 with and without chronic conditions.|
As a result of these findings, which support previous studies showing higher rates of obesity in the U.S. and worldwide among youth with disabilities, the time is now to start promoting inclusive obesity prevention programs for youth and young adults with disabilities. On March 15, we were on the "Hill," where we educated our legislators on the importance of addressing this significant health disparity in younger people with disabilities. This time around, our goal was to make sure that all federally funded programs on obesity prevention in youth and adults had an element of inclusion - Nothing more, nothing less. Our mantra was simple:
For more information on the briefing, please contact Jessica Madrigal at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-900-8086.