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Dev Neurorehabil. 2020 Jan;23(1):31-38. doi: 10.1080/17518423.2019.1687596. Epub 2019 Nov 5.

I Work Out, Who Cares if I'm Bigger: What Matters to Youth with ASD regarding Weight and Their Bodies?

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Bloorview Research Institute, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Toronto, Canada.
Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
Department of Physical Therapy, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada.


Background: Childhood overweight and obesity, in addition to weight stigma, can result in numerous physical and psychosocial conditions. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are at a higher risk of developing overweight/obesity than their typically developing peers, yet we know little about what matters to them with regards to weight and their bodies.Methods: Eight semi-structured interviews were conducted with youth with ASD. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using a phenomenological approach within an interpretive paradigm.Results: Participants mostly showed little concern about their weight. Participants highly valued moving their bodies and reported feeling good about their bodies.Discussion: Findings suggest that children with ASD may be more engaged in healthcare discussions focusing on growth and health rather than size and weight. This approach can also reduce stigmatizing discussions.


Obesity; autism spectrum disorder; overweight; weight-management

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