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Obesity is a growing problem for all children in the United States; the CDC reports that one in six children and adolescents are obese. Obese and overweight children are at higher risk of having chronic health conditions such as asthma, joint problems, heart disease risk factors, and type 2 diabetes, and for being obese as adults. Children and adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are more likely to be obese than non-disabled children. They are less physically active than their peers and have lower levels of physical fitness. Some children with IDD have restricted eating habits, which contribute to poor nutrition and obesity. To further compound these issues, there are racial and ethnic disparities with respect to children and obesity. For example, Latino children and adolescents experience higher rates of obesity than their white peers, and these disparities are likely to be heightened among children with IDD. However, there is very limited research on the health and obesity among Latino children and adolescents with IDD. This is surprising given the large representation of Latinos in the US population, and the documented rates of obesity among Latino children.
We propose to address this major gap in the research by conducting three studies that examine health and obesity among Latino children and adolescents with IDD, and develop and test an intervention for Latino children and adolescents with IDD and their families to promote healthy lifestyles. Our first study will be at the exploration and discovery stage of research, and will examine factors that contribute to poor health and obesity among Latino and African American children and adolescents with IDD using the National Survey of Children’s Health. Our second study will also be at the exploratory and discovery stage of research and will collect important baseline information among Latino children and adolescents with IDD and their families through a two site cross-sectional study that will collect rigorous data on physical activity, nutrition, height, weight, and waist circumference, family environmental factors and cultural practices. Our third study will combine and test two evidence-based interventions, one designed for Latino caregivers of children with IDD and the other designed for Latino children and adolescents with IDD and their families. This comprehensive family intervention will utilize home visits to family caregivers by promotoras de salud, and family-based group activities that demonstrate physical activity and healthy food preparation in a culturally tailored way. This project will span the intervention development and intervention efficacy stages of research. We will first merge the two interventions together and conduct a pilot study, and then test the efficacy of the intervention using a randomized trial with a waitlist control group across two sites. Our dissemination and training activities will contribute towards disseminating findings about Latino children with IDD and health, and scaling up the intervention by creating train the trainer programs.
The contents of this research project were developed the under a grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living (ACL), National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) Grant #90DPHF0005-01-00. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.