What is the research about?

Researchers have found that 30-50% of children with Down Syndrome (DS) are obese, a greater number than seen in children without DS. Obesity is known to often begin in childhood and adolescence, and increases the risks for diabetes and heart disease. Many children and teens with DS have heart or other health problems, so it may mean that obesity is an even great risk to them than it is in adults without DS.

What did the researchers do?

The study was conducted with 41 teenagers (25 boys and 16 girls) with DS, aged 13 to 18, who live in Brazil. The participants were assigned to one of two 12-week exercise programs, or to a no-treatment group. The aerobic training program consisted of using a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. The resistance training program used a series of exercises of different muscle groups. To determine risk for diabetes and heart disease the researchers tests for both percentage of body fat and BMI (a score using height and weight, that is used to define normal weight, overweight and obesity), waist size, height, and weight of all participants. At the end of the 12- week period, the same measures were taken.

What did the researchers find?

All of the participants attended the exercise programs for their entire 12-week duration. The authors found that among this group of teenagers with DS, neither the aerobic nor resistance training group participants had changes in their overall body fat percentage, while those in the no-treatment group gained body fat. Participants in the aerobic exercise group had reduced BMI and waist size. Parents reported that many of the teenagers started eating more, particularly starchy foods, during the exercise programs.

Take home message

Starting exercise programs before the teenagers become obese could stabilize their body fat percentage and reduce health risks. The authors suggest that greater improvement could be seen if the participants also followed a healthy diet in combination with the exercise.


The original Research Report was written by B. Seron and associates and published in Revista Paulista de Pediatria. 2014.

To learn more about BMI and body fat measurement go to http://weightloss.about.com/od/weightloss101/a/Bmi-Or-Body-Fat-Percentage.htm