Overweight and Obesity in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): a Critical Review Investigating the Etiology, Development, and Maintenance of this Relationship

  • Brittany E. Matheson
  • Jennifer M. Douglas
Review Paper


Pediatric obesity is associated with negative health and psychosocial consequences. However, obesity may not uniformly affect all populations. Limited research has investigated the factors that contribute to the incidence and persistence of overweight and obesity among children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This review systematically examined the prevalence rate of overweight and obesity among children with ASD. The majority of studies suggest that children with ASD may be at a greater risk for excess weight gain compared to typically developing peers. Additionally, this review investigated potential contributing factors to the etiology and maintenance of obesity within this population. Research should continue to investigate excess weight gain in this population in order to adapt weight loss interventions for children with ASD.


Autism spectrum disorder Pediatric obesity 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


The authors have no funding sources to disclose.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical PsychologySan Diego State University/University of California, San DiegoSan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA

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