Document Type

Student Research Paper


Spring 2016

Academic Department

Occupational Therapy


Childhood obesity is a health condition that is expanding rapidly within the United States. Children who are obese make the act of bringing food to their mouth a habit, as well as chewing and swallowing the food. This constant, unsatisfying action can be compared to the habits and actions of those children diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD). Children who live with SPD lack the neurological process within their nervous system, which is responsible for taking information from their body or the environment and organizing it within the brain (Murphy, 2012). The lack of ability to organize sensory information to the brain may explain why children who are obese are unable to receive messages of fullness. A potential relationship between behaviors of children with sensory processing disorders and childhood obesity may be relevant. There has been little research regarding the relationship between children with both obesity and sensory seeking behaviors. In order to gather a comprehensive understanding of the possible relationship, the author conducted two interviews with parents of children who struggle to keep a healthy weight. The interview questions focused on children’s behavior and eating patterns. The clinical question investigated is: Is there a relationship between childhood obesity and sensory processing disorders? The purpose of the study is to inform practitioners and therapists about a possible relationship, to therefore better prepare them as they create treatment plans and interventions for children who are diagnosed as obese, and may also be sensory seekers. Further research can be conducted, measuring the sensory processing behaviors of children who are obese/overweight using the Short Sensory Profile assessment.


Senior Thesis.