Weight loss and dietary improvements following the Healthy Lifestyle Change Program, a community-based intervention for adults with developmental disabilities

OBJECTIVE: People with developmental disabilities (DD) are at high risk for obesity due to inactivity, poor diet and medication effects.Our goal was to evaluate the effect of an intervention designed for adults with DD on weight loss and dietary habits.

METHODS: A pre-post test design was used to evaluate the Healthy Lifestyle Change Program (HLCP), a 7-mo program to improve dietary habits and reduce obesity in adults with DD with BMI25. Forty-five participants completed nutrition and exercise sessions twice weekly for 7 mos. Abdominal girth, dietary habits, nutrition knowledge, weight satisfaction, weight and BMI were measured at baseline and 7 mos.

RESULTS: Two-thirds of participants maintained or lost weight. Mean weight loss was 3 lbs (p=0.03) and BMI change was –0.5 (p=0.04). Abdominal girth decreased by a mean of 1 in. (p=0.005). An increase in weight satisfaction was reported by 43% (p=0.0001). Participants reported significantly improved diet. Water and nutrient-dense food intake increased significantly (p<0.0001), while intake of energy-dense snacks, fast foods and soda decreased. Nutrition knowledge improved on recommended servings of fruits, carbohydrates,whole grain products and risks of fried foods (p0.05)

CONCLUSION: The HLCP is an effective strategy to improve dietary habits and knowledge and decrease abdominal girth and weight for adults with DD.