Date Presented 04/22/2023

In this study, we examined how child and neighborhood factors influenced obesity in children with autism using a retrospective chart analysis. OT may use population-based health approaches to address obesity in children with autism.

Primary Author and Speaker: Kelsey Remeis

Additional Authors and Speakers: Marissa Matimore, Kathleen Caruso

Contributing Authors: Lauren Little

Obesity in children has emerged as a public health crisis, and children with autism have higher body mass index (BMI) rates than typically developing children. There are few studies to date that have examined environmental factors association with BMI rates in children with autism. In this study, we used a retrospective chart review from a large sample (n=700) to examine BMI in relation to the Child Opportunity Index (COI), which analyzes the child opportunity in communities for access to health resources. Using regression analysis with predicators of gender, age, race, ethnicity, diagnosis, COI, and comorbidities predicting BMI, preliminary findings suggest an inverse relationship between BMI and COI. Results also suggest differential effects of age, race, and ethnicity as they interact with COI to predict child BMI. Findings point to the role that communities play in the promotion of health among children with autism and how occupational therapist may use population based approaches to address obesity among those with autism.


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