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Obesity Risk for Disabled

Obesity is a major health issue concerning the general American population. A new study shows it is an even bigger problem for adults with disabilities. Researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston found adults with physical, mental and sensory limitations are at increased risk for obesity.

Researchers examined data from a national survey of more than 145,000 Americans. Nearly 26,000 participants had one or more disabilities. About 25 percent of adults with disabilities were obese compared with 15.1 percent of those without disabilities. Obesity was defined as having a body mass index greater than 30.

The study also shows adults with lower limb mobility difficulties, such as walking, standing, climbing stairs or requiring the use of a cane or walker, had 2.5 times the risk of being obese. Further tests found this same group was not likely to have received exercise counseling from their physicians. Lead author Christina Wee, Ph.D., says, “We, in the field of public health, need to develop strategies to help these patients in their weight control efforts.” She adds, “Physicians should recognize that patients with disabilities face increased risks for obesity and address their weight concern.”

Adults who were deaf or hard of hearing were also at high risk. All of the participants reported they were trying to lose weight, though adults with mental illness were more likely to attempt to lose weight than the general population.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association.

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