Pediatric Therapy Corner: Looking At Metabolism in Down Syndrome
By: Joan E. Medlen, R.D., L.D.
In the first weeks after our son with Down syndrome was born, my thoughts strayed to his health throughout his life. My impression was that all adults with Down syndrome were very obese. As a dietitian, most of my work had been in the weight management area. I had seen first-hand the effects long-term obesity had on a person’s life. I remember emphatically explaining to my husband that we needed to be an aerobically active family. I asked him to consider cross-country skiing instead of downhill skiing, and to plan for activities like family biking trips.
Now, seven years later, Andy is a slender, tall boy, like his brother. He eats well, but not perfectly. He appears “active,” but it’s not very aerobic. And, when I look at other children with Down syndrome at conferences and in my community, there seems to be a mix of body types: some are slight and petite, some are thick and stocky, and some are overweight. Where did that early image of obese adults come from? Had I fallen for a myth? Could it be that this younger generation of persons with Down syndrome will not have as many obese adults? Has the increase in community inclusion changed the incidence of obesity.
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