Joe and many other autistic people like him became obese after using psychiatric drugs to deal with anxiety. Joe’s name was changed at his request to protect his privacy. He tried to no avail to eat a vegan diet, after learning about the CHIP Program from a family friend, because he thought that diet would help him lose some weight.
Joe stated, “I decided to try to follow the CHIP Program after a few hits of DMT made me not want to eat meat or fish. I had a really hard time following the CHIP Program because of my love of cheese. Even thought I cut out meat and fish from my diet, I sill have not lost any weight. I have avoided meat and fish for over two years. I actually think that I am gaining and not losing weight. I want to find a safe and maintainable way to lose the weight and keep it off. I know from past experiences that fad diets and extreme methods to lose weight don’t work in the long run. I am trying to find a way that I can lose weight without having to sacrifice my way of life.”
According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, autistic people are much more likely to become obese as children and stay obese for the right of their lives than are people who do not have autism.
Statistics showing that autistic people are more likely to be obese when compared with typically developing people. (Infographic: infogr.am/Michael Israel)
One of the possible reasons that autistic people are more likely to become obese than typically developing people is because of the side-effects of the psychiatric drugs given to people who have autism. Another possibility for the higher rate of obesity among autistic people is that food sensitivities may cause people with autism to select fatty foods that are not healthy to eat and tend to lead to obesity.
Joe gained a lot of weight after being put on atypical antidepressants in high school to help him cope with his anxiety. Joe then said, “I could not lose any of the weight that I gained during high school. Any time I managed to lose some weight following any type of diet, I would usually gain the weight I lost and sometimes even a little bit more weight after I stopped the diet. I have come to the realization that I need to find a long-term solution that I can use to lose the weight because diets never seem to work for me.”
Joe decided that he needs to start counting calories to ensure that he was not eating more food than he was burning off. Joe said, “I know I’ll be able to lose weight, but I will need to work really hard at it. I, also, need to start to keep a record of everything that I eat to ensure that I am not am not consuming more food than I am able to burn off.”