Do Genes Play a Role in Autistic Children Being Obese?

Isa Jones ByIsa Jones

Do Genes Play a Role in Autistic Children Being Obese?

Sarabeth Broder-Fingert, the assistant professor at Boston University, saw something common among many autistic children visiting her clinic.

Autism and Obesity

She observed many of her young clients were either obese or overweight.

Broder-Fingert says, “When I met a particular girl, I realized obesity is not the only aspect affecting the health of autistic children.”

The young girl in her early teens was seen to outweigh her parents. “The young girl’s parents weren’t able to safely protect her at the time of her outbursts, explains Broder-Fingert.

Obesity is seen to affect other aspects of everyday lives, for instance; putting youngsters at a risk of being bullied which could give rise to more health concerns.

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During early 2014, the team led by Broder-Fingert reported results obtained from tireless studies that were aimed to decode the underlying link between autism and obesity. The team analyzed data of 6800 children and found autistic children are twice likely to have overweight issues in comparison to their regular peers.

Further, autistic children were seen to be five times more prone to obesity than other non-autistic children.

A recent study conducted highlights 34 percent of autistic adults as being obese. Obesity is further seen to aggravate heart diseases and diabetes in autistic individuals.

Broder-Fingert highlights the importance of exploring the available options to help one cope up with their obesity.

Risk Factors

Multiple studies have highlighted a common occurring link between obesity and autism. More than 40 percent of autistic children in their teens are either obese or overweight.

Other studies observed autistic children on two extreme ends of health complexities. At times there were autistic children who were too thin or extremely heavy, both of which give rise to health complications.

Several Reasons for an Autistic Child Being Obese

  • Autistic children are often observed to be picky eaters
  • Many children diagnosed with autism are observed to have a strong dislike for vegan foods
  • More inclinations to fast foods (Unhealthy Foods)

At times certain medications tend to cause side effects leading children to gain undue weight due to no fault of theirs.

Meredith Dreyer Gillette says, “One needs to take a serious look at the physical activities to help one lose weight.” A child’s sleep patterns also play a critical role in ensuring their weight gains are in control.

Gene Contributions:

Another study stressed the importance of BMI study to understand the underlying reasons behind obesity.

The study observed data in more than 11000 children from Sweden who were in the age bracket of 9 to 12 years. 5 % of the total children were seen to have extreme Body Mass Index (BMI).

The autistic children with extreme BMI were seen to have monotonous behaviors. The researchers conclude picky eating habits as one of the major reasons contributing obesity.

To have the environmental and genetic contributions parsed; researchers studied an additional 1900 fraternal twin-pair and 1518 identical twins data. Interestingly, 30 percent of the identical twins had similar BMIs compared to fraternal twins.

The data was seen to support the notion of obesity being genetic in nature.

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Do Genes Play a Role in Autistic Children Being Obese?
Article Name
Do Genes Play a Role in Autistic Children Being Obese?
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Are genes to be blamed for children gaining undue weight? An insightful article explaining the unique reasons behind obesity
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Times of Autism
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Isa Jones

Isa Jones

Hi, my name is Isa Jones and I am a journalist with Autism Times. I am passionate towards autism advocacy and love to be associated with the wonderful team. If you have any great piece of content to be shared or interesting story to be covered feel free to email me.

About the author

Isa Jones

Isa Jones author

Hi, my name is Isa Jones and I am a journalist with Autism Times.

I am passionate towards autism advocacy and love to be associated with the wonderful team.

If you have any great piece of content to be shared or interesting story to be covered feel free to email me.

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