Estimating Disability Prevalence Among Adults by Body Mass Index: 2003–2009 National Health Interview Survey
Source:Prev Chronic Dis. 9.
Keywords:Activities Of Daily Living
Body Mass Index
Obesity is associated with adverse health outcomes in people with and without disabilities; however, little is known about disability prevalence among people who are obese. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and type of disability among obese adults in the United States.
We analyzed pooled data from sample adult modules of the 2003–2009 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to obtain national prevalence estimates of disability, disability type, and obesity by using 30 questions that screened for activity limitations, vision and hearing impairment, and cognitive, movement, and emotional difficulties. We stratified disability prevalence by category of body mass index (BMI, measured as kg/m2): underweight, less than 18.5; normal weight, 18.5 to 24.9; overweight, 25.0 to 29.9; and obese, 30.0 or higher.
Among the 25.3% of adult men and 24.6% of women in our pooled sample who were obese, 35.2% and 46.9%, respectively, reported a disability. In contrast, 26.7% of men and 26.8% women of normal weight reported a disability. Disability was much higher among obese women than among obese men (46.9% vs 35.2%, P < .001). Movement difficulties were the most common disabilities among obese men and women, affecting 25.3% of men and 37.9% of women.
This research contributes to the literature on obesity by including disability as a demographic in characterizing people by body mass index. Because of the high prevalence of disability among those who are obese, public health programs should consider the needs of those with disabilities when designing obesity prevention and treatment programs.
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