Weight Management in Primary Care for Children With Autism: Expert Recommendations

UMMS Affiliation

Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health; Department of Psychiatry; Healthy Weight Research Network

Publication Date


Document Type



Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition | Disability Studies | Health Services Administration | Health Services Research | Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases | Pediatrics | Primary Care | Psychiatry and Psychology


Research suggests that the prevalence of obesity in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is higher than in typically developing children. The US Preventive Services Task Force and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have endorsed screening children for overweight and obesity as part of the standard of care for physicians. However, the pediatric provider community has been inadequately prepared to address this issue in children with ASD. The Healthy Weight Research Network, a national research network of pediatric obesity and autism experts funded by the US Health Resources and Service Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau, developed recommendations for managing overweight and obesity in children with ASD, which include adaptations to the AAP's 2007 guidance. These recommendations were developed from extant scientific evidence in children with ASD, and when evidence was unavailable, consensus was established on the basis of clinical experience. It should be noted that these recommendations do not reflect official AAP policy. Many of the AAP recommendations remain appropriate for primary care practitioners to implement with their patients with ASD; however, the significant challenges experienced by this population in both dietary and physical activity domains, as well as the stress experienced by their families, require adaptations and modifications for both preventive and intervention efforts. These recommendations can assist pediatric providers in providing tailored guidance on weight management to children with ASD and their families.

DOI of Published Version



Curtin C, Hyman SL, Boas DD, Hassink S, Broder-Fingert S, Ptomey LT, Gillette MD, Fleming RK, Must A, Bandini LG. Weight Management in Primary Care for Children With Autism: Expert Recommendations. Pediatrics. 2020 Apr;145(Suppl 1):S126-S139. doi: 10.1542/peds.2019-1895P. PMID: 32238539. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title


Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID