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Disability, obesity often go hand in hand in Missouri

Many disabilities that people in Columbia live with severely restricts their movement. For example, a back or neck injury may limit your ability to walk. Lack of mobility affects the ability of many disabled people to maintain their weight, with increased obesity a possible consequence, according to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study suggests that obesity and its health effects is an additional health challenge that many disabled people face. With an estimated 54 million Americans living with a condition that affects disability, this could be a serious health problem in this country.

Instead of relying on self-reported height and weight data, researchers used data from a long-term survey of people's size measurements. Information for about 11,500 disabled adults and around 20,400 non-disabled adults was included in the study. While 29.2 percent of the non-disabled adults were obese, 41.6 percent of the disabled subjects qualified as obese, a big difference. In addition, 9.3 percent of the disabled people were considered "extremely obese" compared with just 3.9 percent of the non-disabled.

As readers in Columbia know, obesity can trigger serious health complications, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Though researchers found increased instances of hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes among disabled people of all weight ranges, it is likely that increased obesity among disabled people contributes to this phenomenon.

The study's lead author said her findings suggest that disabled people should seek forms of exercise that fits into their physical abilities, if possible to better control their weight.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "People with disabilities struggle more with obesity," July 16, 2013

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