University Presentation Showcase: Graduate Poster Gallery



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Creation Date

Spring 2015


Recreation and Parks Administration


Recreation and Park Administration




Michelle Davis Gerken

Mentor Department

Recreation and Park Administration


A major health concern for the state of Kentucky is the high rate of obesity throughout the commonwealth. In 2014 33.2% of adults were classified as obese with a BMI over 30. Although alarming, the most alarming statistic is childhood obesity rates in Kentucky are 19.7% (State of Obesity 2014). Kentucky leadership is working hard to find ways to reduce obesity rates of Kentuckians (including children). In fact, one of the Kentucky healthcare goals is to reduce obesity rate of Kentuckians 10% by 2019. Discovering what motivates children to become active has been a hot area of research recently. Unfortunately, little focus has been on the obesity rates in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); although children with ASD have a 40% greater risk to be obese compared to normally developing children (Curtin et. al 2010). The problem lies in the fact that the motivation to exercise in normally developing children is different than the motivations of children with ASD. Currently literature exists about how to motivate children with ASD. However, many of these suggestions have not been experimentally tested to insure the quality and creditability of the results. This research aims to provide an explanation of why understanding the motivations to exercise in children with ASD is important, identify potential motivations for future research, and the role Recreational Therapist play in finding these motivations and using them to help reduce obesity rates in children with ASD.