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Expanding the Literature on Health and Nutrition for Individuals with Significant Disabilities
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This dissertation contains three separate papers, each constituting a chapter, on health and nutrition for individuals with significant disabilities. The first paper is a narrative literature review outlining obesity prevalence, obstacles to healthy living, and promising interventions in both nutrition and physical activity for the population. The second paper is a phenomenological study detailing the lived experiences of six parents of children with significant disabilities regarding the children’s eating habits. Five distinct themes were revealed from coded transcripts and included variety of foods (including those recommended for high, moderate, and low intake); food particularity, preferences, and inflexibility; health conditions impacting eating routines; family mealtime adaptations; and variation in engagement with physical activity. The third paper is an intervention study conducted remotely with four high school students with significant disabilities. This single case research study investigated the system of least prompts to increase participants’ behavior in choosing the food representing the missing food group when shown an array of photos of foods representing the other four groups. Findings indicate that the intervention was effective for increasing all participants’ ability to choose the correct missing food. All students mastered the skill and two maintained at 6-week follow up. Key Words: nutrition education, physical activity, eating habits, significant disabilities, high school students, system of least prompts, remote instruction/learning