Brief Report: Obesogenic Behaviors of Children with Developmental Disabilities During Summer


The ‘Structured Days Hypothesis’ suggests that children’s obesogenic behaviors (e.g., activity, diet, sleep, and screen time) are less favorable during times when there is less-structure to a child’s day (e.g., summer). To compare obesogenic behaviors of children with developmental disabilities (DD) during summer on days with differing amounts of ‘structure’. Seventeen children with DD (mean age 9.8 years) attending a day camp wore a Fitbit© activity monitor on the non-dominant wrist during summer, and parents completed a survey packet, to capture obesogenic behaviors. Participants displayed improved physical activity levels, diets, and sleep timing on camp days versus other days. Providing children with DD ‘structure’ over summer is a potential intervention approach requiring further investigation.

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The authors would like to acknowledge and express their gratitude towards the staff and volunteers of Camp MATES for allowing us access to their camp.


There is no funding to report for this study.

Author information




KB conceived the study, participated in its design, conducted the data analysis and drafted the manuscript; MWB and RGW provided guidance on the design of the study and participated in the interpretation and presentation of results. ABB, JMG and CMM made critical review and revision of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Keith Brazendale.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. No research was performed on animals in this study.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Brazendale, K., Brazendale, A.B., Garcia, J.M. et al. Brief Report: Obesogenic Behaviors of Children with Developmental Disabilities During Summer. J Autism Dev Disord 51, 734–740 (2021).

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  • Children
  • Autism
  • Summer
  • Activity
  • Diet
  • Sleep