Premature declines in function among adults with cerebral palsy (CP) are generally attributed to weakness, spasticity and orthopaedic abnormalities, as well as chronic pain and fatigue. Very little research or clinical attention has been devoted to the confluence and consequences of early muscle wasting and obesity as mediators of secondary comorbidity in this population, and perhaps more importantly, to the role of lifestyle to potentiate these outcomes. At present, there are no national surveillance programmes that monitor chronic health in adults with CP; however, mortality records have demonstrated a greater prevalence of coronary heart disease as compared with the general population. Although by definition, CP is a 'non-progressive' condition, secondary factors such as habitual sedentary behaviour, obesity, and premature sarcoepenia may increase the severity of functional impairment throughout adulthood, and lead to cardiometabolic disease, fragility and/or early mortality. Herein we describe the heightened health risk represented in adults with CP, and discuss the hallmark phenotypic features that coincide with ageing, obesity and cardiometabolic disorders. Moreover, we provide discussion regarding the protective role of habitual physical activity to stimulate anti-inflammatory pathways and to ameliorate global risk. Although physical therapeutic modalities are already widely acknowledged as a vital component to improve movement quality in CP, the purpose of this review was to present a compelling case for the value of lifelong physical activity participation for both function and cardiometabolic health preservation.
© 2012 The Authors. obesity reviews © 2012 International Association for the Study of Obesity.