Aims To audit whether children in the region studied diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are being measured in accordance with the national child measurement programme. To define the prevalence of overweight/obesity in these children and evaluate how well they were being managed, against the NICE guidelines and the healthy child programme.
Methods Medical notes were analysed from a convenience sample of 77 children with ASD from both special (59) and mainstream (18) schools in the region studied.
Results Eighty five per cent and 82% of the eligible children were being measured in reception and year 6, respectively. Forty seven per cent of the children were overweight/obese, of which a higher proportion were from special schools (53%) than mainstream schools (28%). A concern had been raised in only 51% of these children. BMI was calculated in only 5% of all children. Where a concern was raised interventions including discussion with parents (95%), advice on diet/exercise (77%), regular weighing (91%) and referral to the dietician (86%) were done in most cases. However, only 18% were referred to the local healthy lifestyle programme and there were concerns raised by the community paediatricians and the lead coordinator of the local healthy lifestyle programme that this service is not suitable for all children with ASD. Of the obese children, 62% were investigated for co-morbidities.
Conclusion Children with ASD were being measured in accordance with the national child measurement programme. A high proportion were found to be overweight/obese. This audit highlighted significant deviation from national guidelines in the detection and management of the overweight/obese children. The low proportion of cases in which BMI was calculated may have contributed to almost half of the children not being identified as overweight/obese. The need for a local healthy lifestyle programme tailored to children with ASD has been highlighted to the public health team locally. This study has informed local practise and service requirement. Similar studies may be beneficial elsewhere.