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Inclusive mainstream approaches to weight management benefits some service users

Small-scale study explores community-based healthy eating groups for people who have learning disabilities   

Small-scale study explores community-based healthy eating groups for people who have learning disabilities   


Picture: Science Photo Library

People who have learning disabilities are more likely to be obese and this is an area where learning disability nurses have a clear health promotion role.

A small-scale study examined barriers and facilitators to using community-based weight management groups. People with learning disabilities advised on the design and conduct of the study.

Focus groups were held with people with learning disabilities who had either no experience of the weight management organisation Slimming World or were existing members and group consultants. Several recommended reasonable adjustments to Slimming World’s approach were introduced.

People with learning disabilities attended Slimming World for eight weeks. They and their carers were interviewed after two weeks and again after the programme.

Enjoy a varied diet

Most people engaged fully, learned to choose foods in line with the group’s healthy eating plan and lost weight. Further benefits included enjoying a more varied diet, being able to cook for family and friends and becoming more confident in the group.

For some, however, past experiences or negative expectations meant reasonable adjustments were insufficient to give them confidence to access the groups.

The study shows community-based group approaches to healthy living can be rendered inclusive, relevant and acceptable to many people who have learning disabilities, but for some there are limitations in this approach.

Croot L, Rimmer M, Salway S et al (2018) Adjusting a mainstream weight management intervention for people with intellectual disabilities: a user centred approach. International Journal for Equity in Health. 17, 159


Dave Atkinson is an independent consultant nurse

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