Multiple studies have suggested that autism spectrum disorders seem to increase the risk of overweight and obesity. We examined the pooled prevalence and relative risk of developing overweight or obesity among children with autism spectrum disorders in a systematic review and meta-analysis. We searched PubMed, Scopus, ProQuest, and Web of Science databases and subsequently screened the records to identify studies that reported prevalence of overweight and/or obesity in children with ASD and matched groups of neurotypical children. DerSimonian-Laird random-effects meta-analyses were performed to examine pooled prevalence and relative risk of obesity in children with autism spectrum disorders using the “meta” package in R software. Among children with autism spectrum disorders, the prevalence of obesity was 22.2%. Children with ASD had a 41.1% greater risk (P =.018) of development of obesity. Non-Caucasian race, increasing age, female sex, and living in the United States emerged as positive moderators of the association between autism spectrum disorders and prevalence of overweight or obesity. Autism spectrum disorders seem to increase the risk of childhood obesity. Increased awareness of this association may allow the implementation of early interventions to reduce obesity and prevent potential deterioration of quality-of-life in this population.
- relative risk