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Autism Boosts Inactivity in Kids

Update Date: Sep 26, 2014 07:20 PM EDT
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Autism increases the risk of obesity, a new study suggests.

Researchers from Oregon State University found that autistic children are less likely to exercise compared to other children.

The latest study showed that the average autistic child performs 50 minutes less moderate physical activity and sat on average 70 minutes more daily compared to their normally developing counterparts

The latest study involved 17 children with autism and 12 children without autism. Children underwent fitness assessments and wore accelerometers for a week to measure their physical activity levels.

While children with autism were more sedentary, the study revealed they were mostly on par with their peers when it comes to fitness. The strength test was the only test where autistic children scored significant lower than children in the control group.

"These kids, compared to their peers, are similarly fit," researcher Megan MacDonald, an assistant professor in OSU's College of Public Health and Human Sciences, said in a news release. "That's really exciting, because it means those underlying fitness abilities are there."

"That's really important for parents and teachers to understand, because it opens the door for them to participate in so many activities," she said. "They can do it. Those abilities are there," she said. "We need to work with them to give them opportunities."

"Physical fitness and physical activity are so important for living a healthy life, and we learn those behaviors as children," MacDonald said. "Anything we can do to help encourage children with autism to be more active is beneficial."

The findings were published in the journal Autism Research and Treatment.

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