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High prevalence of obesity in ambulatory children and adolescents with intellectual disability

Stewart, L. and Van de Ven, L. and Katsarou, V. and Rentziou, E. and Doran, M. and Jackson, P. and Reilly, J.J. and Wilson, D. (2009) High prevalence of obesity in ambulatory children and adolescents with intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 53 (10). pp. 882-886. ISSN 0964-2633

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Background Obesity prevalence is unusually high among adults with intellectual disability (ID). There is limited and conflicting evidence on obesity prevalence among ambulatory children and adolescents with ID. The present study aimed to estimate obesity prevalence in this group and to compare with population prevalence. Methods Survey of nine schools (n = 206, 150 boys) for ambulatory children and adolescents with mild-moderate ID in Scotland in 2007. Obesity was defined as measured body mass index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile relative to UK 1990 reference data, and using the international definition based on BMI. Obesity prevalence observed was compared against Scottish population data on obesity prevalence from the most recent nationally representative survey. Results Obesity prevalence (at or above 95th percentile for BMI) was 36%, and was significantly higher among those attending secondary schools compared with primary schools (P < 0.01). Prevalence of obesity was significantly higher than in the general paediatric population in both boys and girls (P < 0.01). Conclusions The present study suggests that that obesity may be very prevalent among ambulatory children and adolescents with ID, and that increased obesity risk may begin in childhood.