Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry to Measure the Effects of a Thirteen-Week Moderate to Vigorous Aquatic Exercise and Nutritional Education Intervention on Percent Body Fat in Adults with Intellectual Disabilities from Group Home Settings
People with intellectual disability are more likely to be obese and extremely obese than people without intellectual disability with rates remaining elevated among adults, women and individuals living in community settings. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry measured the effects of a 13-week aquatic exercise and nutrition intervention on percent body fat in eight adults with intellectual disabilities (aged 41.0 ± 13.7 yrs) of varying fat levels (15%-39%) from two group homes. A moderate to vigorous aquatic exercise program lasted for the duration of 13 weeks with three, one-hour sessions held at a 25m pool each week. Nutritional assistants educated participants as to the importance of food choice and portion size. A two-tailed Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-ranks test determined the impact of the combined intervention on body fat percentage and BMI at pre and post test. Median body fat percentage (0.8 %) and BMI (0.3 kg/m2) decreased following the exercise intervention, but neither were statistically significant, p = .11 and p = .55, respectively. The combined intervention was ineffective at reducing percent body fat in adults with intellectual disability according to dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. These results are in agreement with findings from exercise alone interventions and suggest that more stringent nutritional guidelines are needed for this population and especially for individuals living in group home settings. The study did show that adults with intellectual disability may participate in moderate to vigorous physical activity when given the opportunity.