Obesity and secondary conditions in adolescents with disabilities: addressing the needs of an underserved population.

Children and adolescents with physical and cognitive disabilities have a higher prevalence of overweight compared to their non-disabled peers. This health risk can lead to a greater number of obesity-related secondary conditions (e.g., fatigue, pain, deconditioning, social isolation, difficulty performing activities of daily living) and can impose significant personal and economic hardship on the child and family. Effective strategies for reducing the risk of overweight/obesity in adolescents with disabilities must begin with greater awareness of the behavioral and environmental antecedents that lead to higher rates of obesity in this underserved segment of the youth population. Research on interventions to reduce obesity among adolescents with disabilities is an important area of future research for public health scientists. A range of interventions will be necessary to overcome the many barriers that youth with disabilities experience in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.