Nutrition and Physical Activity
Participants in the Stoplight Healthy Living Program learn about portion sizes and food groups with the help of a model plate.
The DHP works to improve knowledge of and access to good nutrition. In 2018, we initiated the evidence-based Stoplight Healthy Living program to assist adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to make healthy choices regarding nutrition and physical activity. We first tested the program through several trials in partnership with SLI, Inc. in Topeka. Please see below for accounts of these trials, in which the program was well received by several groups of SLI participants. After these initial trials, the DHP developed a Train-the-Trainer model to train staff from organizations that service adults with IDD across the state. These staff are prepared by webinar to deliver the program, with technical assistance and all supplies provided by the DHP.
The DHP is now working to deliver the program statewide through this Train-the-Trainer model, and is also working to provide resources via this webpage to encourage individuals with IDD and the organizations that serve them to have access to information and activities that enable them to continue to promote good nutrition and increased physical activity.
Stoplight Healthy Living a "Go" for Consumers
Seven participants at SLI in Topeka completed the Stoplight Healthy Living Program in the spring of 2018. This program engages adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to make better choices regarding nutrition and physical activity.
DHP staff Dot Nary and Kim Bruns delivered the pilot program, which met weekly for six weeks at a group residence.
The seven participants learned how to use the Stoplight method for choosing healthier foods. In this approach, foods are assigned to color groups that remind the user how often to eat them: Green means “go” (eat often), Yellow means “slow” (eat sometimes) and Red means “whoa” (eat rarely).
The participants learned how to measure healthy portions, the importance of eliminating sugary drinks for a healthy diet, how to choose healthy foods when eating out, and ways to have fun while increasing their physical activity.
The participants worked with the group home staff to make healthy changes, such as buying whole wheat bread instead of white bread, offering sugar-free snacks, and serving water or milk with meals instead of soda.
The DHP plans to conduct the program at another group home, and then to develop a training so others can deliver Stoplight Healthy Living to Kansans with IDD across the state.
SLI Consumers Practice Healthy Eating and Moving
Seventeen Kansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) from SLI-Topeka participated in Stoplight Healthy Living in the fall of 2018. These individuals live in their own homes and attend activities at SLI, so this program is a great fit for their ongoing group that focuses on how to stay healthy. Three staff members also attended to assist and learn how to deliver the program.
The overall goal of the program is to help participants understand the positive impact of nutrition and exercise on their lives. The program emphasizes small changes to daily routines that can improve overall health.
In addition to learning the importance of physical activity to good health, participants learn how to choose foods according to the Stoplight method, which assigns colors to groups of foods. Green foods are GO. These include most fruits and vegetables. Yellow foods, like rice and pasta, are SLOW foods. They can be part of a healthy plate, but in lesser ammounts. Red foods are WHOA-STOP. These include foods such as cake, cookies, chips, ice cream, and red meat that are high in fat, sugar, and/or calories.
Participants engage in a variety of activities to reinforce the healthy living message:
- Putting Green, Yellow and Red stickers on foods in participants' pantries to reinforce the Green, Yellow, and Red food groups
- Demonstrating healthy portion sizes using one's hand (e.g., a healthy serving of protein is the size of one's palm)
- Guessing the amount of sugar in common drinks, as demonstrated through a Sugary Drinks display
- Role-playing how to order a healthier meal at a fast-food restaurant
The program ended with the awarding of completion certificates and a celebration of participants' accomplishments.