The prevalence of overweight and obesity in children with learning disability in Edinburgh: a cross-sectional study

KS Macdonald *
University of Edinburgh*
Address for Correspondence: KS Macdonald, University of Edinburgh, UK. Email:

Aim: Many recent studies discuss rising prevalence of childhood obesity. There is an established link between obesity and learning disability in adults, however very little is focussed on children. This project aimed to identify prevalence of and risk factorsfor overweight and obesity among children with learning disability. This was hoped to help direct resources towards interventions for this vulnerable group.

Methods: Cross-sectional analysis of BMI centiles of 254 children was performed, and comparedwith a sample of the general population using standardised ratios.

Results: Children with learning disability wereat significantly more risk of overweight and obesity than the general population. Split by sex, girls were at increased risk of overweight (including obesity), and boys just at an increased risk of obesity.There is strong evidence linking Down’s syndrome with obesity. When these children were excluded to ensure that this was not a confounding factor, there was no significant difference between the remaining boysand those in the general population. Girls however remained at increased risk.Prevalence of overweight and obesity increased with age. We attempted to analyse the significance of different disabilities on risk, however Down’s syndrome was the only category with sufficient numbers. These children appeared to be at higher risk than those with other diagnoses.

Conclusion: Our results suggestfemale sex, Down’s syndrome and age are risk factors for overweight and obesity in children with learning disability; this supports past research in adults. These findings are valuable for future planning and highlighting crucial further research.
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