OUT NOW: The DAMSON project report (Dietary Approaches for Metabolic Syndrome, Obesity and improved Nutrition) @KUStGeorges

The project team worked with NHS Trusts across Kent, Sussex and Surrey and actors from the Baked Bean Theatre Company.

Individuals with a learning disability are more likely to be overweight than people who do not have a learning disability. The Dietary Approaches for Metabolic Syndrome, Obesity and improved Nutrition for people with learning disabilities (the DAMSON project) provides resources and trains staff to support people with learning disabilities to make healthy food choices and to reduce the risk of obesity and associated health conditions.

A video cookbook was produced showing cooking in real-time. This included healthy recipes that individuals with learning disabilities can use available at https://canvas.kingston.ac.uk/courses/12067. Following the creation of the cookbook, a one-day training workshop for staff was developed.

The workshop looked at:

  1. How to identify metabolic syndrome (combination of diabetes or pre-diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity)
  2. Educating individuals about healthy eating and food cultures
  3. Changing environmental practices and supporting change.

As a result of the workshops two common issues were identified: the quantity of snacking and portion control. Staff felt that they provided nutritious meals but issues arose due to additional snacks. In terms of portion control, practical examples taken from the nudge approach were used to enable discussion around these issues, for example, explaining how using smaller plates and different sizes of drinking vessels could support appropriate portion sizes.

As a result of the DAMSON Project, people with learning disabilities told us what they had been eating and what they felt about it:

“Trying to watch my portion size … I ask the staff about smaller plates to make it look bigger than it actually is”

“Been eating nice things …like vegetables, peas, carrots, not cauliflower because cauliflower doesn’t agree with my stomach.”

The opportunity to present these issues with people with learning disabilities at forums for Primary Healthcare Practitioners (including GPs and Associate Physicians) highlighted the need for further training, and for recommendations to be developed regarding the organisation of such events.

Three reports have been produced, an easy read report, the lay report which explains the journey and what we learnt along the way, and the evaluation report which describes the findings from the project.

Click here to access the reports, and easy read summary

For further details about the project contact:

Lynette Harper
Senior Lecturer Learning Disability Nursing

Kingston and St George’s Joint Faculty
Health, Social Care and Education
Room 1001, Frank Lampl Building,
Kingston Hill campus, Kingston Hill, KT2 7LB


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