Health Matters!
Did you know that 33% of all American adults are obese?
Chronic diseases – such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis – are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems1. Many of the chronic diseases are directly linked to overweight and obesity.

Four common causes of chronic disease
lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption are responsible for much of the illness, and early death related to chronic diseases and are all modifiable.

By taking steps toward
healthy living people with intellectual disabilities and their caregivers can reduce their risk of chronic disease and improve their quality of life and increase longevity. After all, successful aging is 30% genetics and 70% lifestyle choices and health behaviors!
Healthy Living Next Exit traffic sign
People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
woman with Down syndrome preparing food
People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) have higher prevalence of overweight and obesity compared to the general population. The highest rates are among people living in community settings.

Social support and environment influences our ability to make health choices that impact health status. This is especially true among people with ID where social support is one of the key factors in improving health.
Research has shown that:
  1. Caregiver education enhances health behaviors.
  2. Caregiver attitudes increase healthy food choices and physical activity.
  3. Caregiver encouragement improves lifestyle choices.
Paid Caregivers
a group of staff
Paid caregivers need health promotion initiatives also! Stress and burnout experienced by caregivers has been linked to poor health, emotional problems, unhealthy lifestyles, poor quality of life, marital and family problems.

Caregiver stress and poor health may prevent them from advocating for community participation and improving quality of life of people with I/DD. Caregivers identify health promotion as a priority to improve fitness and prevent health problems.
Community-Based Organizations
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Health and well-being of people with I/DD and caregivers begins with the culture of community based organization itself. Employee wellness programs are directly linked to organizational outcomes such as absenteeism, health care costs, and disability claims. Wellness programs provided by employers can have positive effect on employee well-being, including physical health, emotional health, and healthy behaviors. Healthier workforce can have higher job satisfaction and is better able to advocate and support individuals with I/DD.
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/
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