241941 A Healthy Weight Initiative for Special Olympics Athletes

Monday, October 31, 2011

Heather Parker, MS, CHES , Healthy Athletes, Special Olympics International, Washington, DC
Amy Shellard, MPH , Research and Evaluation, Special Olympics International, Washington, DC
Darcie L. Mersereau, MPH , Healthy Athletes Program, Special Olympics International, Washington, DC
Stephen B. Corbin, DDS, MPH , Division of Community Impact, Special Olympics International, Washington, DC
Thirty eight percent of Special Olympics (SO) athletes are obese. The rate is likely higher in people with intellectual disability who are not SO athletes. Unique obesity risk factors among people with intellectual disability include severity and type of disability, medications, living arrangements, lack of control over diet or physical activity and limited health literacy. To address these risk factors, SO created a Healthy Weight Initiative that improves upon existing sports training and health promotion activities. Individuals are encouraged to adopt healthy behaviours around diet and physical activity, with the ultimate goals being sustained healthy weight and life-long fitness for SO athletes. This initiative focuses on individual and societal environmental factors as targets for interventions, and aims to improve good nutrition and physical activity knowledge, self efficacy and practice and create healthy living and training environments. Education is delivered to athletes, families, caregivers, and coaches through a variety of health and sports channels. Interventions include targeted community-based funding to SO Programs, coach education about athlete nutrition and exercising at home, healthy meal guidelines for competition events, and a family education curriculum on healthy weight management. TRAIN provides athletes, their friends, families, teachers and coaches with easy-to-understand guidelines for achieving proper exercise and good nutrition inside and outside the SO setting. Two hundred twenty athletes have participated in five TRAIN pilots to date, with another pre-post pilot planned for Team USA athletes traveling to the SO World Summer Games in Greece. Findings from these pilots will be presented.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the unique obesity risk factors for people with intellectual disability. 2. Describe the goals and components of the Special Olympics Healthy Weight Initiative. 3. Discuss the data collected during the TRAIN pilot tests.

Keywords: Obesity, Intervention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am a Certified Health Education Specialist who oversees the development and implementation of all the interventions included in the Special Olympics Healthy Weight Initiative.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.