A Possible Link Between Childhood Obesity and Intellectual Disorders

by Julia Newman (’19)

Fig. 1: Frequency of family meals and exercise may contribute to childhood obesity.

According to a study recently published in the Disability and Health Journal, children with an intellectual disability (ID) are nearly twice as likely to develop obesity as those without ID. The researchers recorded weekly behaviors of children aged ten to seventeen years old, such as the frequency of family meals and exercise. The results displayed that children with ID ate consistent meals with family members 15% more than those without ID, and those with ID are more likely to continue these family meals into their teenage years. Though previous research has shown that these meals are preventative of obesity in children, this study suggests a correlation between family meals and increased obesity rates. In addition, increased exercise was observed in children without ID. This may be explained by the low tolerance of frustration in physical activities often seen in children with ID, but many studies still need to be conducted in order to conclude this connection between childhood obesity and intellectual disorders.



  1. Segal, et al., Intellectual disability is associated with increased risk for obesity in a nationally representative sample of U.S. children. Disability and Health Journal 9, 392-398 (2016).
  2. Image retrieved from: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2015/03/12/getting-to-the-core-of-childhood-obesity

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