The problem of overweight children with intellectual disabilities (ID) has many adverse medical and psychological effects and is of growing concern among professionals in the disability research and advocacy arenas. To address this issue, we propose to develop materials targeted specifically to parents of children with ID based on Social Learning Theory. The goal of this program is to increase parents'level of motivation, improve their skills, and enhance their sense of self-efficacy in bringing about changes in family healthy lifestyle behaviors in order to promote weight loss in their children. While children's risk of obesity depends on many factors, parents are the key players in shaping the home environment, diet, food preferences, and physical activity levels. Yet over-control or under-control of child eating behaviors by parents has adverse effects. On the other hand, when parents work on changing the home health environment and on providing consistent health models, children develop improved eating habits and activity patterns. The overall research aim of this project, Parent-Focused Weight Management for Children with Intellectual Disabilities, will be to demonstrate that our intervention, using a modified behavioral parent training program is as effective as a parent managed weight loss programs successfully used in research studies in the general population. In Phase I, the research team will determine the feasibility of the Parent-Focused Weight Management program by testing Modules 1 and 2. The test will be conducted with a group of 30 parents. This feasibility study will determine whether parents: a) engaged with, used and liked the materials, and b) improved their feelings of self-efficacy related to establishing a healthier family lifestyle and helping their child to lose weight. Positie outcomes on these factors will establish that the proposed product is effective, practical and viable. In Phase II, the research team will develop the remaining instructional modules and conduct a randomized controlled trial with approximately 150 parents of a child with ID who are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. Phase II research will establish that the program produces positive changes in physical activity and nutrition in the family and lowers the body mass index of the child with disabilities who is overweight or at risk of becoming overweight.
This project addresses the growing concern over the problem of obesity in children with Intellectual Disabilities. Childhood obesity presents many adverse medical effects, such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, bone problems, sleep apnea, and widespread psychosocial effects, such as the early and systematic discrimination and stigmatization experienced by overweight children. The proposed research will address this major health problem by developing a family-based weight management program.