Weight outcomes in children with developmental disabilities from a multidisciplinary clinic

Byron Alexander Foster, Kimberly Reynolds, Alicia Callejo-Black, Natasha Polensek, Beau C. Weill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Children with developmental disabilities experience disparately high rates of obesity yet there are few reports detailing clinical outcomes for this population. Aim: To describe outcomes of obesity treatment for children with developmental disabilities and a comparison group of children without developmental disabilities. Methods and procedures: We examined weight outcomes of children with and without developmental disabilities seen in a family-centered, multidisciplinary treatment center over a ten-year period. We stratified by age and developmental disability diagnosis. We assessed whether intake demographic or health behavior data was associated with successful reduction of adiposity over six and twelve month follow-up periods, using a ≥5% absolute reduction in percent over the 95th percentile body mass index (BMIp95) as the primary outcome. Outcomes and results: Over a ten-year period, 148 of 556 children in the obesity clinic (27 %) had a developmental disability. In children <12 years of age, 36 % of children with developmental disabilities reduced their adiposity compared with 18 % of children without developmental disabilities at six months, p = .01. This pattern continued at twelve months. Active transport to school was associated with reduced adiposity for those without a disability. Older children with disabilities rarely had a significant reduction (2 of 26 children), and they took more medications with weight-related side effects. Conclusions and implications: Younger children with developmental disabilities experienced relative success in reducing their adiposity. Challenges to addressing obesity in this population include structural barriers to physical activity and medications for behavioral management with weight-related side effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103809
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Children
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Interventions
  • Multidisciplinary
  • Obesity
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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