Food Related Activities and Food Intake in Everyday Life among People with Intellectual Disabilities
Abstract: The aim of this thesis was to study food, eating and meals in the everyday life of 32 women and men with intellectual disabilities (IDs) who require varying levels of supervision. They lived in supported living (rather independently) or group homes in community-based home-like settings. Observations during 3 days, assisted food records and anthropometric measurements were used to collect data. Dietary intake on the group level showed a varied diet and sufficient intake of all micronutrients, but a low dietary fibre intake. On the individual level, inadequate intake of micronutrients was observed, with many participants being obese, overweight or underweight. Everyday support with food, eating and meals was seen in four praxis: foodwork by oneself for oneself, foodwork in co-operation, foodwork disciplined by staff and foodwork by staff. These four practices resulted in large variations in dietary intake. The first praxis entailed more convenience food and less vitamins, the second and third, more fresh ingredients and high energy intake, and the fourth, low energy intake but rather high intake of vitamins. Sharing of meals was least common in supported living and more common in group homes and daily activity centres. The participants’ social eating spheres consisted mostly of other people with ID and staff members, and seldom other people. Whereas some preferred solitary eating, many participants considered eating together as important, but required staff support in establishing commensality. However, disturbing behaviour, as determined by the staff, could result in solitary eating. In conclusion, supporting the group rather than the individual sometimes created less favourable dietary, eating and meal outcomes. This problem needs to be addressed in order to establish food security at the individual level. In addition, actions should be taken to ensure that people with intellectual disabilities receive sufficient support to meet their individual needs and aspirations.
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