Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

The Effects of a Nutritional Intervention on the Nutritional Knowledge of Children and Adolescents with Visual Impairments

Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

The Effects of a Nutritional Intervention on the Nutritional Knowledge of Children and Adolescents with Visual Impairments

Article excerpt

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a nutritional program on the nutritional knowledge of children and adolescents with visual impairments. The results indicated that there was a significant difference between the scores of the experimental and control groups and that age and vision had no effect on the acquisition of nutritional knowledge.

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Since the mid-1970s, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States has increased sharply for both children and adults (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, 2008). One national health objective for 2020 is to reduce the prevalence of obesity among adults and to determine the risk factors for obesity (CDC, 2010).

Obesity among adolescents is especially cause for concern, because habits that are developed during childhood tend to continue into adulthood (Eriksson, Forsen, Osmond, & Barker (2007). Furthermore, of the many factors that influence obesity in children and adolescents, poor eating habits are a problem, since they place children at a higher risk of physical, mental, and social health disorders. Healthy eating patterns in childhood and adolescence promote childhood health, growth, and intellectual development and prevent immediate health problems (CDC, 2008).

Obesity, nutritional interventions, and visual impairment

The rates of overweight and obesity are higher among persons with disabilities than among the general population (Capella-McDonnall, 2007) and may be especially high among children and adolescents with visual impairments. It has been well documented that persons who are visually impaired are less physically active and in poorer physical condition than are sighted persons (Kozub & Oh, 2004; Lieberman, Byrne, Mattern, Watt, & Fernandez-Vivo, 2010; Lieberman & McHugh, 2001; Longmuir & Bar-Or, 2000; Skaggs & Hopper, 1996). Unfortunately, obesity among children and adolescents with visual impairments exceeds that among average children and adolescents, and persons with disabilities, including those who are visually impaired, are more likely to report poorer health than are persons without disabilities (Horowitz, Brennan, & Reinhardt, 2005; Jacobs, Hammerman-Rozenberg, Maaravi, Cohen, & Stessman, 2005; Rimmer, 1999; Wang, Mitchell, & Smith, 2000). In addition, recent research has shown that adults with visual impairments engage in low levels of daily physical activity (Holbrook, Caputo, Perry, Fuller, & Morgan, 2009).

There is evidence that the quality of life of children and adolescents with and without visual impairments is in jeopardy because of poor nutritional habits (Montero, 2005). Therefore, it is imperative that individuals with visual impairments have knowledge of nutrition with which they can make healthy dietary choices. To be successful, interventions that are designed to increase the nutritional knowledge of children and adolescents with visual impairments must be modified, and specific pedagogical techniques must be used for the interventions to be successful. To foster learning by children and adolescents with visual impairments and disabilities, it is imperative to match specific teaching styles and learning strategies with each individual.

The nutritional programs that are available rely heavily on visual cues. For example, computer-based interventions include multimedia attempts to engage children and adolescents in learning (Casazza & Ciccazzo, 2006). For example, MyPyramid relies on an interactive web site and graphics that enable adolescents to increase their nutritional knowledge (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, n.d.). However, for children and adolescents with visual impairments, a nutritional intervention needs to be established using appropriate teaching methods that find alternatives to visual cues such as tactile learning, modeling, question-and-answer techniques, and educational games (Downing & Chen, 2003; Lieberman & Cowart, 2010; O'Connell, Lieberman, & Petersen, 2006). …

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