Overweight and obesity in children and adolescents with Down syndrome-prevalence, determinants, consequences, and interventions: A literature review

Res Dev Disabil. 2016 Oct:57:181-92. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2016.06.018. Epub 2016 Jul 19.


Background: Children with Down syndrome (DS) are more likely to be overweight or obese than the general population of youth without DS.

Aims: To review the prevalence of overweight and obesity and their determinants in youth with DS. The health consequences and the effectiveness of interventions were also examined.

Methods and procedures: A search using MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science, Scopus, CINAHL, PsycINFO, SPORTDiscus, LILACS, and COCHRANE was conducted. From a total of 4280 studies, we included 45 original research articles published between 1988 and 2015.

Outcomes and results: The combined prevalence of overweight and obesity varied between studies from 23% to 70%. Youth with DS had higher rates of overweight and obesity than youths without DS. Likely determinants of obesity included increased leptin, decreased resting energy expenditure, comorbidities, unfavorable diet, and low physical activity levels. Obesity was positively associated with obstructive sleep apnea, dyslipidemia, hyperinsulinemia, and gait disorder. Interventions for obesity prevention and control were primarily based on exercise-based programs, and were insufficient to achieve weight or fat loss.

Conclusions and implications: Population-based research is needed to identify risk factors and support multi-factorial strategies for reducing overweight and obesity in children and adolescents with DS.

Keywords: Down syndrome; Obesity; Overweight; Youths.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Diet*
  • Down Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Down Syndrome / metabolism
  • Down Syndrome / rehabilitation
  • Dyslipidemias / epidemiology
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Hyperinsulinism / epidemiology
  • Leptin / metabolism
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / rehabilitation
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / metabolism
  • Overweight / rehabilitation
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology


  • Leptin