Children with disabilities face challenges on a daily basis, but studies are now finding that these same children have to deal with weight problems as well. In fact, the Center for Disease Control found that obesity rate for children with disabilities is 38% higher than those without disabilities.

According to, the type of disability a child has also makes a difference in their weight. Through an analysis of data from the CDC's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, it was discovered that 80.6% of children with functional limitations on physical activity were either overweight or obese, while 44% of children with attention deficit disorder were either overweight or obese.

Challenges for Those with Disabilities

Many factors come into play with why children with disabilities are at a higher risk of becoming obese. According to the CDC, these factors include: difficulty with chewing or swallowing food, medications that contribute to weight gain and changes in appetite, physical limitations, pain, a lack of accessible environments including parks and exercise equipment, and a lack of resources.

Strategies for Families

If your child with disabilities is struggling with weight gain, there are steps you can take:

1. Lead by Example

Don't just talk about eating healthy - model healthy eating. If you eat better and provide more nutritious food, then your child will eat better too. If the junk food isn't in the house, she can't eat it.

2. Educate

Teach your child how to prepare healthier snacks. This puts the power in her hands.

3. Tune In

Turn off the television. The more TV time your child has, the more likely she is to gain weight.

4. Get Active

Find ways to be active by signing your child up for any dance classes or activities she is physically able to participate in, or simply begin taking your child outdoors as much as possible for walks. Making exercise and activity a priority on any level will lead to improvement in your child's quality of life.

5. Join In

Get your child involved in the Special Olympics. The Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Initiative works to improve the quality and length of life for its athletes with free screenings for body mass index, bone density, and blood pressure, in addition to educating athletes on both nutrition and physical activity.

6. Get Your Community Involved

Talk to your community members about making parks and recreation centers more accessible for people with disabilities. Advocate for adaptive physical education in your school system by educating teachers and staff.

7. Talk to Your Child's Doctor

Make sure to speak with your child's doctors about any changes you would like to encourage in your child's lifestyle. Find out if there are different or better medications that have become available that may not include weight gain as a side effect.

For more tips and ideas on how you can help children with disabilities maintain a healthy weight and a better quality of life, visit and read's Finding Balance report.