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Diet, feeding practices, and obesity in children with intellectual disabilities
Project Number: R40 MC 25678 Grantee: University of Massachusetts Medical School Department/Center: EK Shriver Center Project Date: 2/1/2013
Linda Bandini, PhD, RD Associate Professor 200 Trapelo Road Waltham, MA 02452-6319 Phone: 781-642-0280 Email: Linda.Bandini@umassmed.edu
Early Childhood (3-5 years)
Middle Childhood (6-11 years)
Obesity in the general population of children in the US has become a significant health
concern, with the prevalence of childhood obesity having tripled over the last twenty years
(Ogden, 2010). Children who are obese are likely to remain so as adults, and excess weight
substantially increases risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. A growing body of evidence suggests that the prevalence of obesity in children with intellectual disabilities (ID) is at least as high or higher as that seen in typically developing (TD) children. Although significant efforts are underway to understand and prevent obesity in children generally, little research has been done in children with ID despite the fact that the factors that give rise to obesity in children with ID may not be the same as in TD children. Moreover, a substantial literature has evolved that examines the role that parenting styles and feeding practices play in the development of obesity in the general population; however, few studies have examined this phenomenon in children with ID. The behavior of children with ID pose unique and significant challenges to their parents that likely have an impact on feeding practices.
In this proposal we will examine the eating patterns, mealtime behaviors, and the
relationship of parenting styles and parental feeding practices to weight status in children with ID ages 3-8 yrs compared to TD children of the same age. We will use a modified food frequency questionnaire and a 3-day food record to collect dietary data and several validated measures to assess parent feeding practices, feeding styles, and child mealtime behaviors. This line of research is important for understanding whether and how these factors are associated with obesity, and has implications for the subsequent development of tailored obesity prevention and intervention strategies specifically designed for this population of children and their families. This project is responsive to the MCHB's Strategic Research Issue #IV: Promoting the Healthy Development of MCH Populations.