Pediatric Obesity Treatment in Children With Neurodevelopmental Disabilities: A Case Series and Review of the Literature

Infant Child Adolesc Nutr. 2012 Aug 1;4(4):215-221. doi: 10.1177/1941406412448527.


Obesity can affect any child, but it occurs disproportionately in children with developmental disabilities. Treatment efforts, however, have focused primarily on nondisabled children, and more research is needed to determine how current approaches can be modified for youth with neurodevelopmental disabilities. This article briefly reviews what is currently known about obesity treatment in these children and presents a case series describing methods employed by a family-based, multidisciplinary weight management program in the treatment of obesity. Lessons learned from clinical experience are also discussed, with implications for collaborating with families of children with disabilities in treatment, establishing healthy routines and schedules, setting the pace of treatment progression, and minimizing disruptions in the behavior change process. Though there are no expert recommendations specifically tailored to obesity treatment in children with neurodevelopmental disabilities, existing clinical programs such as the one described here can be adapted to better meet the needs of this underserved population. Further research is warranted to determine the most effective methods for addressing obesity in these children, as has been specified as a national health priority.

Keywords: autism; development; obesity; obesity treatment; pediatric.