Exercise and healthy eating strategies for people with ID are needed

By Amanda Casey, PhD
St Francis Xavier University, Canada

People with intellectual disabilities (ID) may be more obese and extremely obese than people without disabilities. There is a need for effective health promotion initiatives to reduce obesity and related conditions. There is a debate as to the extent exercise alone can reduce body fat in different populations with and without disabilities.

What did you do in your research?
This study reviewed the effects of exercise training studies on body fat in individuals with ID to see whether exercise alone is effective at reducing body fat levels or whether a focus on nutrition and healthy eating is also required.

What did you find out?
Findings showed that only 11 studies have focused on producing changes in body fat in individuals with ID. Unfortunately, only 18% of exercise training interventions produced positive changes in body fat. A single study combined exercise with a focus on diet.

What are the take-home messages?
More research is needed to promote effective and sustainable strategies aimed at combating obesity in people with ID. There may be need for greater focus on both exercise and healthy eating strategies in order to improve the metabolic health of individuals with disabilities.

To learn more about these findings contact Amanda Casey.

Full Journal Article
Casey, A.F., Rasmussen, R. (2013). Reduction measures and percent body fat in individuals with intellectual disabilities: A scoping review. Disability and Health Journal, 6(1), 2-7.

Resources
Calgary Dolphins Swim Club - Sustainable parent-run community based exercise training program for people with Down syndrome