Research We Do

boy-in-leaves-using-signThe goal of the Healthy Weight Research Network is to build research capacity that will accelerate the pace of research, achieved by the creation and fulfillment of a consensus-driven research agenda.  The network is working together to identify gaps in knowledge and develop an evidence-based research agenda designed to promote healthy weight in children with ASD/DD. Network activities include:

  • conducting research using existing population-based datasets and/or health records to improve  knowledge about the prevalence of overweight/obesity, key risk factors, and obesity-related chronic and secondary health conditions among children and youth with ASD/DD;
  • engaging in formative work with the aim of understanding the biopsychosocial barriers to physical activity and healthy eating;
  •  identifying effective approaches and/or conduct efficacy, feasibility and/or acceptability studies of interventions designed to prevent or reduce excess weight among children and youth with ASD/DD;
  • developing collaborative relationships to leverage additional sources of support to conduct research that fulfills the aims of the HW-RN research agenda.


The HWRN’s research agenda includes a focus on:

  • Eating patterns, eating behaviors, and family practices around food/mealtimes,
  • Physical activity and sedentary behavior patterns and their relation to weight status
  • The influence of school and communitybased organizations on children’s food intake and physical activity, and how these environments may be modified to promote healthy weight in youth
  • Prevention or intervention programs and/or systems of care that can be developed, adapted, and delivered in order to be responsive to the needs of youth with ASD/DD and yield the most positive outcomes possible
  • The characteristics, experiences, and/or priorities of individuals with ASD/DD and their families, and how these factors may influence or inform the maintenance of a healthy weight
  • The development and/or assessment of dietary, physical activity, and other relevant obesity-related measures for use in research with children and youth with ASD/DD