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Child Obes. 2013 Apr;9(2):125-31. doi: 10.1089/chi.2012.0028. Epub 2013 Mar 13.

Obesity in young children with autism spectrum disorders: prevalence and associated factors.

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Division of Developmental and Behavioral Sciences, Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, Kansas City, MO, USA.



The purpose of this study was to identify rates of overweight and obesity in young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and factors related to overweight.


Retrospective chart reviews were conducted for 273 children with ASD [i.e., autistic disorder, Asperger's disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)] after receiving outpatient services with a developmental pediatrician or the developmental team at a children's hospital. Information on child demographics, height and weight, medications prescribed, and adaptive functioning was collected from charts.


Rates of overweight and obesity in children with ASD were found to be above nationally representative prevalence estimates for children. Among children with autistic disorder, 17.16% had a body mass index (BMI) percentile in the overweight range and 21.89% had a BMI percentile in the obese range. For children with Asperger's disorder/PDD-NOS, 12.50% were considered overweight and 10.58% were considered obese. Neither psychotropic medications prescribed nor adaptive functioning was found to be related to whether the child was overweight or obese.


Children with ASD are at risk for overweight and obesity, and children with autistic disorder are at greater risk for weight problems than children with Asperger's disorder/PDD-NOS. Further research is needed to identify factors related to overweight in children with ASD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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