Obesity and children with special healthcare needs: special considerations for a special population

Curr Opin Pediatr. 2014 Aug;26(4):508-15. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0000000000000124.


Purpose of review: The high prevalence of childhood obesity continues to persist, especially in children and youth with special healthcare needs (CYSHCN). The International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health model and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations are appropriate frameworks related to increasing physical activity and healthy eating habits among CYSHCN. This review aims to provide pediatric providers with recommendations in the assessment, treatment, and management of obesity in CYSHCN.

Recent findings: Personal, environmental, and parental factors contribute to participation of CYSHCN in physical activity and consumption of healthy foods. Findings demonstrate that physical activity among CYSHCN is possible with proper guidance and supervision from families, healthcare providers, and community recreation staff. Proper direction from parents can help CYSHCN with food restrictions consume healthier food options. Creative solutions for promoting physical activity and healthy foods are vital for this special population.

Summary: Promoting healthy weight and addressing health behaviors can contribute to favorable health outcomes and quality of life in CYSHCN. Pediatricians are encouraged to assess risks contributing to obesity in collaboration with families and interdisciplinary teams (specialists, psychologists, primary care providers, mental health professionals, social workers, physical therapists, and dieticians), providing their patients (CYSHCN) with essential skills and resources to prevent and manage obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Diet*
  • Disabled Children*
  • Exercise*
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Parents / psychology
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Pediatric Obesity / psychology
  • Pediatrics
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Quality of Life*
  • School Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Socioeconomic Factors