The purpose of the proposed study is to develop and pilot test a manual-based,
interdisciplinary intervention for youth, ages 3 to 10 years, with autism spectrum disorder
(ASD) and overweight called the Changing Health in Autism through Nutrition, Getting fit,
and Expanding variety (CHANGE) obesity program.
The purpose of the study is to develop and test the feasibility of a structured, innovative
approach to treat obesity in 16 children (age 3 to 10 years) with autism spectrum disorder
(ASD). This 16-week program integrates behavioral psychology and nutrition science to meet
the challenges of obesity in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The PI will apply
an evidence-based behavioral intervention to increase food variety,15 use applied behavior
analytic strategies to teach physical activities in a developmentally-appropriate manner,
employ biometrics to assess progress, utilize dietetic interventions to improve nutritional
balance, and train caregivers to use behavior management strategies.
- A diagnosis of ASD confirmed by a clinical psychologist using a "gold standard"
- Overweight status, as evidenced by a BMI percentile > 85% to 94%, and 4) mild to no
food selectivity, as evidenced by either history of consuming some fruits and
vegetable, tolerating new foods near their plate, and/or trying new foods
- Children being treated with atypical antipsychotics (e.g., olanzapine, aripiprazole,
risperidone) or other medications known to cause weight gain will be excluded from
the study due to the weight gain associated with these medications
- Children with unstable medical conditions will be excluded for safety concerns
- Children presenting with severe aggression, self injury, or other disruptive
behaviors that require intensive behavioral intervention will be excluded and
referred to other services as needed