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Autistic children more likely to become obese: Study

A recent study has found that children with autism and developmental delays are up to 50 percent more likely to be overweight or obese.The findings have been published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

The research, by researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), is the first large study to demonstrate that young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or developmental delays are at an equally high risk of developing obesity.

Among children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), those with a higher degree of impairment and more severe symptoms were found to be at even greater risk of developing obesity by age five.

  • The study showed that children with ASD were 1.57 times more likely to be overweight or obese than the general population.
  • Children with developmental delays were 1.38 times more likely to be overweight or obese.
  • The risk for obesity was even more pronounced in children with severe ASD symptoms, as they were 1.7 times more likely to be classified as overweight or obese than children with mild ASD symptoms.

"These findings make it clear that monitoring these children for excess weight gain at an early age is critical, and that prevention efforts should be expanded to include not just children with ASD, but those with other developmental diagnoses, as well," said Susan E. Levy, the study's lead author.

"We need more research to understand why these children are more likely to develop obesity, and which children are at the highest risk," said Levy.



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