People with a learning disability are more likely to have problems with their weight.
There is considerable evidence that people with neurodiverse conditions are more likely than those in the general population to have nutritionally-related ill health, and that this is less recognised by support staff and professionals than it is when it occurs in the general population.
Issues relating to body weight (both overweight and underweight), swallowing difficulties, gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder, diabetes, bowel disorders and oral health are frequently reported among people with learning disabilities.
If you care for a person with a learning disability, they may need help and support to stay a healthy weight.
People with a learning disability are more likely to have problems with their weight. Some people may be underweight because their disability means they have difficulties with eating or swallowing, for example. Others may be overweight because they have a condition that increases their risk of obesity.
If you’re concerned about the weight of the person you care for, try to help them understand the health risks of being either underweight or overweight. A conversation that includes the person with learning disabilities, carers and support workers is a good way to begin making lifestyle changes.
A GP can also check for any medical issues that may be causing weight changes.
Some medicines can affect your weight. If you need more support in helping the person you care for to manage their weight, your GP can advise on physical activity and healthy eating.
There may also be community weight management programmes available that are suitable for people with learning disabilities – ask a GP for more information or whether a referral to First Steps ED can help.
Our staff are trained in Autism and Asperger’s syndrome, and we support many young people and adults with a learning disability with their relationships with food and their bodies through our person-centred approach.