Obesity in adolescents with intellectual disability: prevalence and associated characteristics

Krause, Sharon, Ware, Robert S., McPherson, Lyn, Lennox, Nicholas G. and O'Callaghan, Michael (2015) Obesity in adolescents with intellectual disability: prevalence and associated characteristics. Obesity Research and Clinical Practice, 10 5: 520-530. doi:10.1016/j.orcp.2015.10.006

Author Krause, Sharon
Ware, Robert S.
McPherson, Lyn
Lennox, Nicholas G.
O'Callaghan, Michael
Title Obesity in adolescents with intellectual disability: prevalence and associated characteristics
Journal name Obesity Research and Clinical Practice   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1871-403X
Publication date 2015-01-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.orcp.2015.10.006
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 10
Issue 5
Start page 520
End page 530
Total pages 11
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier
Language eng
Formatted abstract

Studies from a number of countries have indicated an increased risk of obesity in adolescents with intellectual disability. Whether risk factors for adults with intellectual disability apply to adolescents however is uncertain. This study examines obesity in a community sample of adolescents with intellectual disability in Australia, and investigates risk factors associated with obesity and overweight.


A cross-sectional survey and medical record review on 261 adolescents with intellectual disability attending special education facilities in South-East Queensland, Australia between January 2006 and September 2010 was conducted. Information on age, gender, weight, height, syndrome specific diagnoses, problematic behaviours, mobility, taking psychotropic or epileptic medication, and perceived household financial difficulties was collected. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated and participants categorised as normal/underweight, overweight or obese according to the International Obesity Taskforce definitions.


Overall 22.5% (95% CI: 17.8–28.0%) of adolescents were obese, and 23.8% (95% CI: 19.0–29.4%) were overweight, a marked increase compared to Australian norms. Adolescents with Down syndrome were more likely to be obese than other participants (odds ratio = 3.21; 95% CI: 1.41–7.30). No association was found with other risk factors examined.


Prevalence of obesity and overweight were increased compared to general Australian adolescents. The only significant risk factor was the presence of Down syndrome. These findings reinforce the need for a health policy and practice response to obesity that is inclusive of individuals with intellectual disability.
Keyword Intellectual disabiity
Down syndrome
Risk factors
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID 401647
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Public Health Publications
School of Medicine Publications
Centre for Online Health Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 3 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 1 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 31 Mar 2016, 01:44:13 EST by Lyn Mcpherson on behalf of Qld Ctr Intellectual and Developmental Disability