Promoting Physical Activity And Healthy Snack Choices Among Individuals With Intellectual Disabilities

Document Type

Poster Session

Publication Title

Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise

Publication Date


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Abstract/ Summary

PURPOSE: Adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) are at higher risk of becoming obese compared to individuals without ID. There is a strong need to promote nutrition and physical activity among this group of people. This study examined a community-based peer education program aimed at promoting daily physical activities and healthy snack choices among adults with intellectual disabilities. METHODS: The program was designed based on a peer education model. Twenty-one individuals (with mild to moderate ID, Male n=11, Mean age=25.4) participated in the study. Participants were matched with undergraduate students enrolled in a Health Behavior and Promotion course from a local liberal arts college. Students led unstructured fitness training sessions (~45 minutes each meeting) and education lessons twice a week (~ 15 minutes each meeting) for eight weeks. The education lessons focused on increasing self-efficacy of participating in lifestyle physical activities and choosing healthy snacks. Less healthy snacks (e.g., different candies, regular soda) and healthier snacks (e.g., fruit, pretzel, diet soda, bottle of water) were provided to participants twice a day during the intervention. Participants were asked to pick one snack each time. At the beginning and the end of the intervention, participants’ daily snack choices (less healthy vs. healthy) and daily steps were recorded for five days. RESULTS: For daily physical activity, steps/hour did not significantly increase, pre step=362/hour, post steps=281/hour, t(13)=1.77, p>.05. As for healthy snack choices, during the pretest week, on average, 41.0% of snack choices were healthy, while at the post-test, this number increased to 54.9%, one tail t test was significant, t(20)=-1.78, p<.05, Cohen’s d =-.40. CONCLUSION: An 8-week peer education program showed promising effects on promoting healthy snack choices among individuals with intellectual dishabilles. The study was funded by SHAPE America Early Career Investigator Grant.