- Childhood obesity is an extensively research topic as it effects a large number of individuals and has serious consequences on those effected. Current statistics estimate roughly 17% of the youth population is now obese. However, the spread of these cases is not equally distributed. Certain populations are at increased risk for becoming obese or overweight, including certain ethnic groups, individuals with low socioeconomic status, and lastly, the focus of this research, children with developmental disabilities.
Previous studies have showed children with developmental disabilities face increased rates of overweight and obesity compared to their peers without disabilities. Furthermore, additional research has highlighted the direct influence that parental factors, most prominently parental weight status, can have on typically developing children. However, little research has shown the effect that parental weight status has on the health of children with developmental disabilities. Because of the increased dependence on parents, it is possible that these effects are magnified in children with developmental disabilities. The purpose of this research is to strengthen findings from previous research correlating the health of parents and their children and to examine the influence that parental weight status has on the weight status of young children with a range of developmental disabilities.
Significant correlations were observed between parent and child weight (p = 0.002) and child weight and household income (p = .03). When child overweight was indicated as the dependent variable, linear regression analysis revealed a significant relationship with parent overweight (p=.001) after controlling for household income (p=.007) and gender of the child participant. These results corroborate what previous studies of typically developing children and their parents have found which is that increased parent weight status correlates with an observed increased weight status of their children. Due to the serious negative consequences that childhood obesity can have, early identification and subsequent intervention for children at increased risk for being overweight/ obese is imperative in decreasing the immediate and long term negative health consequences.
Key Words: developmental disabilities, childhood obesity, parent and child health