Context Obesity, a leading cause of preventable death and chronic disease, is
associated with disability. Little is known about obesity among adults with
Objectives To determine the prevalence of obesity in adults with physical and sensory
limitations and serious mental illness.
Design, Setting, and Participants The 1994-1995 National Health Interview Survey of 145 007 US community-dwelling
respondents, 25 626 of whom had 1 or more disabilities.
Main Outcome Measures Likelihood of being obese, attempting weight loss, and receiving exercise
counseling among adults with and without disabilities.
Results Among adults with disabilities, 24.9% were obese vs 15.1% of those without
disabilities. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, adults with a
disability were more likely to be obese, with an adjusted odds ratio (AOR)
of 1.9 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.8-2.0). The highest risk occurred
among adults with some (AOR, 2.4; 95% CI, 2.3-2.5) or severe (AOR, 2.5; 95%
CI, 2.3-2.7) lower extremity mobility difficulties. After further adjustment
for comorbid conditions, adults with disabilities were as likely to attempt
weight loss as those without disabilities, except for adults with severe lower
extremity mobility difficulties, who were less likely (AOR, 0.7; 95% CI, 0.5-0.9]),
and adults with mental illness, who were more likely (AOR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.2-1.8).
Physician exercise counseling was reported less often among adults with severe
lower extremity (AOR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.4-0.7) and upper extremity (AOR, 0.7;
95% CI, 0.5-1.0) mobility difficulties.
Conclusion Obesity appears to be more prevalent in adults with sensory, physical,
and mental health conditions. Health care practitioners should address weight
control and exercise among adults with disabilities.