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Long-Term Outcomes of a Multidisciplinary Weight Management Intervention for Youth with Disabilities

Pona, Ashleigh A., Dreyer Gillette, Meredith L., Odar Stough, Cathleen, Gerling, Janelle K., Sweeney, Brooke R.
Childhood obesity 2017 v.13 no.6 pp. 455-461
adolescents, body mass index, childhood obesity, children with disabilities, insurance, lifestyle, models, nationalities and ethnic groups, peers, risk, weight control programs, youth
Background: Youth with disabilities are at increased risk for obesity compared with their typically developing peers and face unique barriers to healthy lifestyles. A limited number of weight management programs have been specifically tailored to accommodate youth with disabilities, and outcomes research in this population is scarce. We investigated the effectiveness of a specialized multidisciplinary weight management program for children with disabilities.Methods: Youth (N = 115) ages 2–18 years (mean age = 10.46) and their families receiving care in the Special Needs Weight Management Clinic (SNWMC) were followed over a period of 12 months. Child height and weight were measured by trained clinicians and used to calculate Body Mass Index z-scores (BMIz). A two-level multilevel model was estimated with repeated measurements of BMIz nested within patients.Results: Significant BMIz reductions of 0.02 per month were observed over the course of treatment when controlling for child age and baseline BMIz. A significant interaction between child age and time revealed that younger (vs. older) children exhibited greater decreases in BMIz over the course of treatment. Sex, ethnicity, disability diagnosis, and insurance moderated change in BMIz over the course of treatment.Conclusions: Outcomes of the SNWMC revealed significant decreases in BMIz with <5 sessions on average over 12 months and indicated the increased efficacy of early intervention in youth with disabilities. Future research should continue to modify interventions for families with adolescent children with disabilities as well as investigate additional variables that may impact success in treatment.