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Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1992 Sep;16(9):633-8.

Adiposity in children: is mental retardation a critical variable?

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  • 1Kennedy Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205.


Several authors have suggested that obesity is more prevalent amongst children with mental retardation than non-mentally retarded children. However, studies on which this suggestion is based typically lack adequate control groups. The current research compared adiposity amongst mentally retarded versus non-mentally retarded children. Study 1 compared 110 mentally retarded children with 107 non-mentally retarded children (162 males, 61 females; age range 11 months-20 years). The independent (predictor) variables included IQ and mental retardation. Dependent (criteria) variables were BMI and age-corrected BMI. Study 2, using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey-II data bank compared 20 children with reported mental retardation with 4015 control children on three variables: BMI, age-corrected BMI, and subscapular to triceps skinfold ratio. Results of both studies found no significant difference in adiposity or body fat distribution between mentally retarded and non-mentally retarded children. Moreover, no significant difference emerged when either age or gender were controlled and no curvilinear or interaction effects were observed.

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