Older women with ID may have higher rates of obesity and diabetes

By Channa de Winter
Erasmus Medical Center, Netherlands

People with intellectual disabilities (ID) are living longer today. This population also has a higher incidence of obesity, and leads sedentary lifestyle. Due to these factors, people with ID are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease (e.g. heart attack or stroke).

What did you do in your research?
We examined the following risk factors: hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) and metabolic syndrome (a combination of these and abdominal obesity) for cardiovascular disease in older people with ID in the Netherlands. Participants were recruited from 3 organizations that provide services for people with ID. We looked at which subgroups were more at risk of developing these risk factors (e.g. men or women, and people with mild or more severe ID).

What did you find out?
Obesity and diabetes in women with ID were present more frequently than in the general population of older people in the Netherlands. Other risk factors were present equally or less frequent (such as high-cholesterol). People who were specifically at risk for hypertension, diabetes, and high-cholesterol were women, older adults, and people who lived more independently and were able to shop for their own groceries or prepare meals independently.

What are the take-home messages?
Cardiovascular risk management should be a preventive measure plan for older adults with ID. People who live more independently are more at risk, which indicates that more education and support on a healthy lifestyle (smoking, diet and physical activity) is needed.

To learn more about these findings contact
Channa de Winter or check out Project website.

Full Journal Article
Winter, C.F., Bastiaanse, L.P., Hilgenkamp, T.I.M., Evenhuis, H.M., & Echteld, M.A. (2012). Cardiovascular risk factors (diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and metabolic syndrome) in older people with intellectual disability: Results of the HA-ID study. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 33(6), 1722–1731.