Why Are Children with Disabilities at a Higher Risk for Obesity?

Ryan skiiing 1.2014

Ryan Skiing (2014)

Have you been walking your way to health?  This week is Healthy Weight Week.   Unfortunately, obesity is more prevalent in people with disabilities than people without disabilities.  Obesity rates for children with disabilities are approximately 38% higher than children without disabilities.   Certainly there are behavioral, environmental and genetic factors that can affect if a person is overweight or obese.

It can be difficult for people with challenges to eat healthy, control their weight and be physically active.  This might be due to:

  • A lack of healthy food choices
  • Medications that can contribute to weight gain
  • Physical limitations that can reduce a person’s ability to exercise
  • Lack of accessible environments that enable exercise
  • Lack of resources (for example, money, transportation, social support)
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Adaptive Bike Program at ELBS

We do know, though, that regular physical activity provides important health benefits for people with disabilities.  These benefits include improved cardiovascular health, improved mental health and better ability to do everyday tasks.  Engaging in physical activities with typical peers enable friendships and increase their social circle, thus decreasing the social isolation experienced by many children with disabilities.

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Barber Beast on the Bay Adaptive Course (2013)

Research has also demonstrated that increased aerobic exercise can significantly decrease the frequency of negative, self-stimulating behaviors that are common among individuals with autism, while not decreasing other positive behaviors.

Ryan Kayaking

Ryan kayaking at Lake Erie

Exercise has always been a big part Ryan’s and my life.  From participating in the kids marathon through skiing, 10k’s, bowling, kayaking, racquetball, golf, a part of our day is always set aside for exercise.  I encourage all parents to start exercise early and together as a family.  It’s Tuesday at 5, we’ve both completed our workday and we are off to the local health club, LECOM, to exercise.

What are you doing to promote Healthy Weight Week?

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