Research suggests that the prevalence of obesity in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is higher than in typically developing children. The US Preventive Services Task Force and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have endorsed screening children for overweight and obesity as part of the standard of care for physicians. However, the pediatric provider community has been inadequately prepared to address this issue in children with ASD. The Healthy Weight Research Network, a national research network of pediatric obesity and autism experts funded by the US Health Resources and Service Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau, developed recommendations for managing overweight and obesity in children with ASD, which include adaptations to the AAP's 2007 guidance. These recommendations were developed from extant scientific evidence in children with ASD, and when evidence was unavailable, consensus was established on the basis of clinical experience. It should be noted that these recommendations do not reflect official AAP policy. Many of the AAP recommendations remain appropriate for primary care practitioners to implement with their patients with ASD; however, the significant challenges experienced by this population in both dietary and physical activity domains, as well as the stress experienced by their families, require adaptations and modifications for both preventive and intervention efforts. These recommendations can assist pediatric providers in providing tailored guidance on weight management to children with ASD and their families.
Copyright © 2020 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.