Promoting inclusive community-based obesity prevention programs for children and adolescents with disabilities:the why and how

Academic Article


  • In numerous studies both in the United States and abroad, the prevalence of obesity among youth with physical and cognitive disabilities is strikingly higher compared to nondisabled youth. Although health professionals are focusing their efforts on finding solutions to the obesity epidemic in nondisabled youth, there is a pervasive absence of awareness and understanding of how to address the obesity epidemic in children and youth with disabilities. Having a disability and also being obese places additional pressure on families in understanding and managing their child's health. Secondary health conditions, such as low self-esteem, depression, high blood cholesterol, liver and gallbladder problems, and pressure ulcers, are higher in obese youth with disabilities compared to nonobese youth with similar disabilities. Addressing the significantly high rates of obesity among children and adolescents with disabilities will require a new model for adapting current and future programs that meet the needs of both youth with and without disabilities. Children and youth with disabilities live in the same communities as their nondisabled peers and therefore are entitled to equal exposure to existing and new programs targeting obesity prevention and reduction. Future research studies and programs that address childhood obesity should have an element of adaptation and inclusion that allows children and youth with disabilities to participate at levels comparable to youth without disabilities. A national expert panel has been assembled to create guidelines and adaptations for existing evidenced-based and community-based obesity prevention programs that will enhance their relevance and inclusivity for youth with disabilities. © Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Childhood Obesity  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Rimmer JH
  • Start Page

  • 177
  • End Page

  • 184
  • Volume

  • 7
  • Issue

  • 3