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DOCC-Net: Disability & Obesity in Canadian Children Network

kids in wheelchairs with hockey sticks

DOCC-Net aims to chart the way of future research on obesity and weight-related issues with children with disabilities. Our goal is to build multi-stakeholder collaborations within Canada, and ensure that our research is scientifically robust, clinically meaningful, and grounded in child and family priorities.

Members of DOCC-Net are interested in areas such as health promotion, weight-management, obesity, physical activity, diet and wellness, as related to children and youth with disabilities.

Researchers, clinicians, parents, policy makers and anyone else with an interest in this area are welcome to join. As the Network grows, the vision is for it to facilitate research collaborations, share existing knowledge between members and disseminate best practices and other key learnings as they are identified.

Knowledge Gaps: Workshop Outcomes

What do we need to know more about over the next 2-5 years to help us better address obesity in children with physical disabilities?

Click here to see all the knowledge gaps identified during a recent DOCC-Net workshop.

DOCC-Net: Selected Publications

The following selected publications are a sample of those authored by members of DOCC-Net. If you would like your publications included, please contact Amy McPherson.

Ball, GDC., Farnesi, BC., Newton, AS., Holt, NL., Geller, J., Sharma, AM., Johnson, ST., Matteson, CL., and Finegood, DT. (2013). Join the conversation! The development and preliminary application of conversation cards in pediatric weight management. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 45(5):476-478.

Cairney, J., Hay, JA., Veldhuizen, S., Missiuna, C., Mahlberg, N., Faught, BE. (2010). Trajectories of relative weight and waist circumference in children with and without developmental coordination disorder. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 82 (11):1167-72.

Cairney, J., Kwan, M., Hay, J., Faught, BE. (2012). Developmental Coordination Disorder, Gender, and Body Weight: Examining the impact of participation in active play. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 33(5): 1566-1573

McPherson, AC., Leo, J., Lyons, J., Church, P., Chen, L., Swift, JA. (2014). An environmental scan of weight assessment and management practices in paediatric spina bifida clinics across Canada. Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine 7(3), 207-217.

McPherson, AC., Keith, R., Swift, JA. (2013).Obesity prevention for children with physical disabilities: A scoping review of physical activity and nutrition interventions. Disability and Rehabilitation,Early Online, 1-15. DOI: 10.3109/09638288.2013.863391.

McPherson, AC., Swift, JA., Yung, E., Lyons, J., Church, P. (2013).The assessment of weight status in children and young people attending a spina bifida outpatient clinic: A retrospective medical record review. Disability and Rehabilitation 35(25), 2123-2131.

McPherson, AC. & Lindsay, S. (2012). How do children with disabilities view ‘healthy living’? A pilot study. Disability & Health Journal,5(3), 201-209.

McPherson, AC., Swift, JA., Yung, E., Lyons, J. and Church, P. (2013). A retrospective medical record review of overweight and obesity in children with spina bifida. Disability and Rehabilitation. Early Online: 1–9.

Verschuren, O., Ketelaar, M., Keefer, D., Wright, V., Butler, J., Ada, L., Maher, C., Reid, S., Wright, M., Dalziel, B., Wiart, L., Fowler, E., Unnithan, V., Maltais, DB., van den Berg-Emons, R., Takken, T. (2011). Identification of a core set of exercise tests for children and adolescents with cerebral palsy: a Delphi survey of researchers and clinicians.Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 53(5):449-56.

DOCC-Net: Projects and Activities

Working groups have been convened for the three main interest areas:


Family engagement guideline


This group is exploring how we actively engage families in shaping research questions, contributing to study design, disseminating findings and other aspects of the research process. The group's first activity is to conduct a comprehensive scoping literature review of the area.

Outcome measure group


This group is focusing upon how we can best assess weight, body composition, physical activity, diet and other aspects of health and well-being in children with disabilities for whom traditional measures may not be appropriate. The group are identifying existing resources for potential adaptation and areas requiring new approaches for their first activity.

Framework group


This group is working on a preliminary conceptual framework which will both guide and be informed by the research efforts of Network collaborations and wider research literature. This has been included in a White Paper emerging from a recent workshop in the first instance, and will be revisited as new evidence emerges.


Other DOCC-Net Activities

DOCC-Net members led a recently-funded CIHR Team Grant on severe obesity in children, which includes seven independent studies that will be completed over the next five years, including one exploring the treatment experiences and needs of children with severe obesity and physical disabilities. The team grant includes 25+ investigators representing five provinces spanning numerous leading academic institutions in Canada. For more information, please contact Geoff Ball.


Canadian Obesity Network

Child Obesity Research Insight, by Dr. Geoff Ball

Dr. Sharma's Obesity Notes

Weighty Matters

RIPPLE - the Resource Information Program for Parents on Lifestyle and Education