Predictors of BMI Among Adults with Down Syndrome: The Social Contex of Health Promotion

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The study explored the relationship of diet, exercise, disability status, and degree of social integration to Body Mass Index, an indicator of excess weight and health status. Subjects were adults with Down syndrome living at home with their families. Variables included a 110-item nutritional analysis and assessments of family demographics, severity of disability, and “lifestyle” variables, such as friendship and affiliation, access to recreation and social activity, and level of physical activity. A factor analysis reduced lifestyle variables into three distinct factors representing friendship, social opportunity, and physical competency. Factor scores were entered into a hierarchical regression model that compared the variance predicted by these factors to the variance accounted for by diet, exercise, and health and physical status variables. Although the overall regression was not statistically significant, the final block of predictors, which represented friendship and social opportunity effects, accounted for a significant increment in BMI variance. Thus, even after the effects of diet, exercise, and physical status variables were partitioned out, the lifestyle variables remained potent predictors of BMI. Study conclusions are described in the context of current paradigms of health in the field of mental retardation and their relationship to inclusion in the community.


Social Work

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Research in Developmental Disabilities