Physical status and parent-child feeding behaviours in children and adolescents with down syndrome in the United Arab Emirates

Tareq M. Osaili, Amita Attlee, Hira Naveed, Huda Maklai, Menna Mahmoud, Noor Hamadeh, Tooba Asif, Hayder Hasan, Reyad S. Obaid

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16 Citations (Scopus)


The prevalence of Down syndrome (DS) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is high in comparison to the global statistics. The aim of this study is to assess the physical status, feeding problems, parent-child feeding relationship and weight outcome in children and adolescents with DS in the UAE. In this cross-sectional study, 83 individuals aged between 2–19 years with DS were recruited from three humanitarian centres for differently abled in the Emirates of Sharjah and Dubai, UAE. Socio-demographic characteristics; height, weight, BMI and body composition; feeding problems (STEP-CHILD screening tool); and parent-child feeding relationship (child feeding questionnaire—CFQ) were assessed. Correlations and regression analyses were used to determine the relationships and the best predictor of weight outcome (BMI) in DS participants. The median age of the participants was 9 (8) years. Fifty-five (66.3%) males and twenty-eight (33.7%) females constituted a sex ratio of 1.96:1. Five (6.2%) participants were short for their age, and 20.6% were overweight/obese compared to the growth charts for DS population. Body composition of females showed significantly higher percent body fat than males (25.5 (14.3)% vs. 18.2 (4.0)%, p = 0.03; 29.9 (2.8)% vs. 16.3 (12.2)%, p = 0.006) in 5–8.99 years and 12–19.99 years, respectively. The most common feeding difficulties on STEP-CHILD tool were food selectivity (62.2%), continued eating in the presence of food (57.7%) and swallowing without sufficient chewing (50%). Median score of total-CFQ for the parent-child feeding behaviour was 3.2 (1.9); parental restriction 3.3 (1.0); pressure to eat 3.0 (0.8); concern about child weight 3.7 (2.3). Parent-child feeding relationship was significantly positively correlated with feeding problems, and body weight of the participants. The best predictor for BMI was the parental concern about child weight (OR: 1.4, p = 0.02). The findings can be valuable for the health care professionals, parents and caretakers of children and adolescents with DS in emphasizing the need for regular monitoring of their physical status, and feeding behaviours. In addition, it reinforces the role of parents in mindfully managing their child feeding relationship in promoting healthy eating behaviours and weight of their youth with DS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2264
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2019


  • BMI
  • Child feeding questionnaire
  • Down syndrome
  • Feeding problem
  • Parent-child feeding behaviour
  • Physical status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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