Weight, nutrition, food choice, and physical activity in adults with intellectual disability Academic Article uri icon


  • Background

    The aim of this study was to describe the nutrition, food choice, physical activity and weight status in a group of adults with intellectual disability (ID) in Victoria, Australia.


    Disability workers and adults with ID were recruited through disability services. In total, 51 disability workers (11 men, 40 women) and 68 (47 men, 21 women) adults with ID participated in the research. Disability workers provided information about the nutrition, food choice and physical activity levels of adults with ID through a questionnaire administered by a general practitioner or research nurse. The questionnaire also included The Australian Nutrition Screening Initiative checklist.


    Body Mass Index was in the healthy range for only 37.5% of participants and in the obese range for almost half (41%). Similarly, the majority of participants had an abdominal circumference in a range that put them at increased or substantially increased risk of metabolic complications. The mean score obtained on the Australian Nutrition Screening Initiative checklist indicated a moderate risk of malnutrition (M = 4.2); however, 17.6% of participants achieved scores that put them in the high-risk category. More than half of the participants were reported to have a little choice in the type of food they ate and when they ate. Physical activity data indicated that the majority of participants (60.3%) did not meet national physical activity guidelines.


    These findings suggest that people with ID are at risk of developing diseases associated with obesity, inactivity, and poor nutrition. Strategies to encourage people with ID to engage in physical activity and healthy eating are, therefore, a matter of priority and should involve their disability workers.

publication date

  • 2016