A Call to Action: Setting the Research Agenda for Addressing Obesity and Weight-Related Topics in Children with Physical Disabilities Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Pediatric obesity is a world-wide challenge. Children with physical disabilities are particularly at risk of obesity, which is worrisome because obesity can result in serious secondary conditions that decrease health status, reduce independence, and increase impact on healthcare systems. However, the determinants of obesity and the health promotion needs of children with physical disabilities are relatively unexplored compared with their typically developing peers. METHODS: This white paper describes a Canadian multi-stakeholder workshop on the topic of obesity and health in children with physical disabilities and provides recommendations for future research in this understudied area. RESULTS: Seventy-one knowledge gaps identified by attendees using a modified nominal group technique clustered into six themes: (1) early, sustained engagement of families; (2) rethinking determinants of obesity and health; (3) maximizing impact of research; (4) inclusive integrated interventions; (5) evidence-informed measurement and outcomes; and (6) reducing weight biases. Attendees worked together to develop research plans in more detail for three areas identified through consensus as high priority: "early, sustained engagement of families;" "rethinking determinants of obesity and health;" and "evidence informed measurement and outcomes." CONCLUSIONS: Using the workshop described here as a call to action, Canadian researchers are now well positioned to work toward a greater understanding of weight-related topics in children with physical disabilities, with the aim of developing evidence-based and salient obesity prevention and treatment approaches.


  • McPherson, Amy C
  • Ball, Geoff DC
  • Maltais, Désirée B
  • Swift, Judy A
  • Cairney, John
  • Knibbe, Tara Joy
  • Krog, Kim

publication date

  • February 2016