Juhee Kim, M.S., Sc.D., Mary L. Greaney, Ph.D.
Children with special health care needs (SHCN) may be at greater risk of obesity than children without SHCN. A new classification system categorizes SHCN among children by service type using the following categories: No-SHCN, medication use only, services use only, medication + service use, and functional limitations. Research is needed to examine obesity and obesity-related behaviors among children using the new classification system.
To determine the prevalence of inadequate vigorous physical activity (VPA), high screen time and obesity by SHCN category using the new classification system.
Multivariate regression models were fitted for inadequate VPA, high screen time, and obesity to determine if there were differences in these outcomes by SHCN category, adjusting for multistage-sampling and survey-design effects using a nationally representative sample of children in the National Survey of Children’s Health 2007.
22.9% of the sample was classified as having SHCN: 9% medication use only, 5% medication + service use, 4% service use only, and 5% functional limitations. Children in the medication use only and medication + service use groups were not at increased risk for inadequate VPA, high screen time, or obesity. Children in the service use only and functional limitation groups had increased odds of high screen time and obesity, which disappeared after controlling for confounders. However, the higher odds of inadequate VPA remained significant in the service use only [OR (95% CI) = 2.00 (1.34–3.00)] and the functional limitations groups with 2.21 (1.55–3.15).
Physical activity promotion programs are needed for children with SHCN, especially children with functional limitations and those who require service use only and do not use prescribed medication.