As readers of this blog will know, huge research efforts are being focused on childhood obesity in Canada and beyond. However, children with physical disabilities have been overlooked in much of this research, and in many cases, explicitly excluded.
This is troubling because kids with disabilities are 2-3 times more likely to experience overweight or obesity than typically developing children. This was the impetus behind a two-day workshop held in October 2014 at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto, Canada.
Families, clinicians, decision-makers and international researchers came together to answer the question: “What do we need to know more about over the next 2–5 years to help us better address obesity in children with physical disabilities?” An account of the workshop and the priorities identified were recently published as a ‘Call to Action’ in the journal Childhood Obesity.
One of the three main recommendations highlighted was “Children’s and families’ needs must be integrated into prevention and treatment programs taking into account the additional caring commitments and environmental challenges often experienced by families of children with physical disabilities”. As part of the ABC3 grant, we’ll have the chance to do just that. Across multiple clinical sites, we’ll be exploring families’ experiences in managing severe obesity in children with disabilities and their recommendations for improving health services.