A Pilot Study Investigating the Feasibility and Acceptability of a Parent-Only Behavioral Weight-Loss Treatment for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

J Autism Dev Disord. 2019 Nov;49(11):4488-4497. doi: 10.1007/s10803-019-04178-8.


Evidence-based weight-loss treatments for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are lacking. Therefore, a parent-based weight-loss treatment for children with ASD (PBT-ASD) was developed. A pilot study was conducted to test the initial efficacy, feasibility, and acceptability of this intervention. Parents of 20 children with ASD and overweight/obesity (mean age = 9.90 (SD = 2.31) years; 90% male; 40% Hispanic) participated in a 16-session PBT-ASD. The PBT-ASD program was found to be feasible and acceptable. Both children and parents lost weight from pre- to post-treatment (p's < .05). Parent-reported child physical activity and vegetable consumption increased at post-treatment (p's < .05). This pilot study provides a proof-of-concept for PBT-ASD. Randomized controlled trials with larger samples and follow-up are needed.

Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Obesity; Parent training; Weight-loss.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / complications
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / therapy*
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Eating
  • Exercise
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Overweight / complications
  • Overweight / therapy*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Pilot Projects
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss*