A school-based mentoring program developing healthy behaviors of adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities: A pilot feasibility study

Studies have reported that adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have a higher prevalence of obesity due to medication in…

Source: ScienceDirect

Abstract

Background

Studies have reported that adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have a higher prevalence of obesity due to medication intake, poor diet, and physical inactivity. More importantly, they lack awareness and comprehension to prevent weight problems. Thereby, health-promoting practices should be offered in schools for adolescents with IDD.

Objective/Hypothesis

This pilot study examined the feasibility of a school-based intervention using the I Can Do It! (ICDI) national health promotion model to promote healthy behaviors of adolescents with IDD.

Methods

A pretest-posttest design was employed. Fourteen adolescents (9 males, 5 females) aged 12–15 years (mean = 13.4, SD = 0.9) from self-contained classrooms completed a 14-week intervention (60–70 min/session) over 4-month period. Healthy behaviors were evaluated by body composition (waist circumference and BMI z-score), physical activity level and nutrition behaviors.

Results

Body composition did not change as a result of the intervention. The intervention increased the amount of time spent in physical activity, but not the frequency. In contrast, the children’s water consumption did significantly increase after the intervention (d = 3.39). The amount of fruit and vegetables also significantly increased after the intervention, where only 7% reported eating these daily before the intervention and afterwards 86% reported eating fruits and vegetables daily (p < .0001).

Conclusions

The results demonstrate that it is feasible to conduct a goal-driven, mentor-based intervention in school for adolescents with IDD. While preliminary effectiveness results are promising, future research should focus on rigorously testing the effectiveness of the ICDI model and examining the programs long-term sustainability.

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