"Our research showed that adults with sensory, physical and mental health conditions are at increased risk for obesity," says the study's senior author Christina Wee, M.D., M.P.H. of the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). "We in the field of public health need to develop strategies to help these patients in their weight-control efforts."
Using data pooled from U.S. government surveys including the 1994-1995 National Health Interview Survey, the 1994-1995 Disability Supplement and the 1995 Healthy People 2002 Supplement, Wee and her coauthors examined the cases of more than 145,000 individuals. Of this group, nearly 26,000 had one or more potentially disabling conditions, which were classified into six categories: blind/low vision; deaf/hard of hearing; lower extremity mobility difficulty; upper extremity mobility difficulty; hand dexterity difficulty; and serious mental illness.
After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, the survey analysis found that nearly 25 percent of the group of individuals with disabilities were obese defined as having body mass index greater than 30 compared with about 15 percent of the adults without disabling conditions.
According to Wee, who is also an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, the highest risk for obesity was found among adults with lower limb mobility difficulties, defined as difficulty walking, standing, climbing stairs or requiring the use of a mobility aid such as a cane or a walker. Further analysis found this same group was also
Contact: Bonnie Prescott
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center