Prevalence of overweight and obesity in Irish ambulant children with cerebral palsy

Type Article

Journal Article


D. Kiernan; C. Nikolopoulou; K. Brady

Year of publication



Ir J Med Sci








BACKGROUND: Children with cerebral palsy may be at greater risk of being overweight or obese than their typically developed peers due to a number of biomechanical, behavioural, or medical issues that restrict participation. It has been a concern of our multi-disciplinary team that a greater number of children with cerebral palsy were presenting as overweight or obese. However, there are conflicting results in the literature as to prevalence and trends of overweight and obesity in these children. AIMS: To assess the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children with cerebral palsy presenting to our movement analysis laboratory over a 20-year time period. METHODS: A retrospective analysis was conducted of the laboratory database. Inclusion criteria were ambulatory children with a diagnosis of spastic cerebral palsy aged between 4 and 17 years inclusive. Height, weight, physical classification of cerebral palsy and functional level of impairment were extracted. Body mass index was calculated and data were analysed according to 4- × 5-year time periods. RESULTS: There were 1021 children included in this study. There were no significant findings for increasing trends of overweight and obesity across time. Prevalence of obesity and combined overweight and obesity in the most recent time period (2015-2019) was 7.1% and 20% respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Prevalence of overweight and obesity is not increasing in Irish ambulatory children with cerebral palsy. However, a higher prevalence of overweight and obesity was evident when compared with their typically developed Irish peers. It is therefore important that prevalence and trends are monitored.