Down Syndrome and Obesity

Obesity is a major health concern and is more common in individuals with Down syndrome than the general population. Obesity is defined as excessive fact accumulation that increases health risk. It is an abnormal accumulation of body fact usually 20% of a person’s ideal body weight.

Medical complications of obesity includes sleep apnea, lung disease, pancreatitis, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, inflamed veins and gout. When the body mass increases, so does the risk of having a heart attack or heart failure.

In a study published by the American Association Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities found a difference between studies on children versus adults with Down syndrome. Children with Down syndrome have consistently been found to exhibit a reduced resting metabolic rate meaning children with Down syndrome are at a great risk for weight gain since they will burn fewer calories. at rest during activities.

Children with Down syndrome also tend to have a condition known as hypothyroidism. Approximately 10 percent of children with Down syndrome have hypothyroidism. As children with Down syndrome get older, eating behaviors change leading to obesity (Approximately 30%). These changes may be due to low muscle tone or inactivity due to thyroid problems or heart conditions.

Exercise and recreation are crucial to the well-being of individuals with Down syndrome. The following are strategies for helping to maintain weight control and to live longer and healthier lives:

  1. Develop a regular exercise program. According to Drs. Chicoine and McGuire, authors of The Guide to Good Health for Teens and Adults with Down syndrome, Exercise should be free of risk. Push ups and weightlifting are not appropriate due to many people with Down syndrome who have issues with the upper 2 vertebrates.
  2. Swimming is an effective exercise. Many pool have walking exercises in the pool as well.
  3. Exercise should be fun, socially and realistic.
  4. For older adults with Down syndrome, look for teachable moments to teach portion control, drinking enough fluids, and eating a well-balanced meal.

Reference

Chicoine, B. and McGuire, B. (2010). The Guide to Good Health for Teen and Adults with Down Syndrome. Bethesda, MD