Observed dietary intake in adults with intellectual disability living in the community
Background: Knowledge is lacking about dietary habits among people with intellectual disability (ID) living
in community residences under new living conditions.
Objective: To describe the dietary habits of individuals with ID living in community residences, focusing on
intake of food, energy and nutrients as well as meal patterns.
Design: Assisted food records and physical activity records over a 3-day observation period for 32 subjects.
Results: Great variation was observed in daily energy intake (4.9-14 MJ) dispersed across several meals, with
on average 26% of the energy coming from in-between-meal consumption. Main energy sources were milk
products, bread, meat products, buns and cakes. The daily intake of fruit and vegetables (320±221 g) as well
as dietary fiber (21±9.6 g) was generally low. For four vitamins and two minerals, 19-34% of subjects showed
an intake below average requirement (AR). The physical activity level (PAL) was low for all individuals (1.4±
Conclusion: A regular meal pattern with a relatively high proportion of energy from in-between-meal eating
occasions and a low intake of especially fruits were typical of this group of people with ID. However, the total
intake of energy and other food items varied a great deal between individuals. Thus, every adult with ID has
to be treated as an individual with specific needs. A need for more knowledge about food in general and
particularly how fruit and vegetables could be included in cooking as well as encouraged to be eaten as inbetween-
meals seems imperative in the new living conditions for adults with ID.
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