Purpose of review: Obesity is a common comorbidity in individuals with spina bifida. Carrying excess weight exacerbates the inherent health challenges associated with spina bifida, impedes the individual's ability to self-manage their condition, and creates further challenges for family members and caregivers. This manuscript provides a narrative review of key issues for understanding and prevention of obesity in persons with spina bifida within the context of the social ecological model.
Recent findings: Specific variables related to obesity and spina bifida include individual factors (i.e., body composition and measurement issues, energy needs, eating patterns, physical activity, and sedentary activity) family factors (i.e., parenting/family, peers), community factors (i.e., culture, built environment, healthcare and healthcare providers, and school), and societal factors (i.e., policy issues). Due to the complex etiology of obesity and its increased prevalence in individuals with spina bifida, it is critical to initiate prevention efforts early with a multifactorial approach for this at-risk population. Increased research is warranted to support these efforts.
Keywords: Body composition; Body mass index; Myelomeningocele; Nutrition; Obesity; Overweight; Physical activity; Physical disabilities; Prevention; Special needs; Spina bifida.