Professor Sandy Magaña has been awarded a five-year, $2.5 million grant to study obesity in Latino children with developmental disabilities.

The study is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). the U.S. federal government’s primary disability research agency. Co-investigators include Nazanin Heyderian (Steve Hicks School of Social Work), Deborah Parra Medina (UT Latino Health Institute), Sandra Vanegas (Texas State University), Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar and Marsha Mirza (University of Illinois at Chicago).

Obesity is a growing problem for all children in the United States; the CDC reports that one in six children and adolescents are obese. Obese and overweight children are at a higher risk of having chronic health conditions such as asthma, joint problems, heart disease risk factors, and type 2 diabetes, and for being obese as adults. Children and adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are more likely to be obese than non-disabled children. In addition to this, there are racial and ethnic disparities with respect to children and obesity and Latino children have higher rates of obesity than white children.

There is very limited research on the health and obesity among Latino children and adolescents with IDD. Professor Magaña’s project addresses this gap in research by examining health, obesity, and health behaviors among children and adolescents with IDD and their maternal caregivers, and developing and testing an intervention to promote healthy lifestyles among Latino children and adolescents with IDD and their families.

Read more.