Disability and Overweight/Obesity

Most women with physical disabilities report with confidence that they follow a healthy diet. However, when asked about specific dietary behaviors, most fall short of their intentions.

A few studies have investigated dietary behaviors of women with physical disabilities. In one study of the health status of women with cerebral palsy, 52 percent believed that they followed a healthy diet. In a national study, 77 percent of women with physical disabilities reported that they believed they ate a balanced diet.

Approximately half of women with disabilities surveyed in a study of health promoting behaviors of women with disabilities, said that they often chose a diet that was best for their health, but only 19% reported often eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, and 46 percent limited the amount of fat in their diet. The disparity between perceptions of "healthy diet" and reported fruit and vegetable intake may indicate that women with disabilities are overestimating their healthy dietary behaviors. All participants reported high self-efficacy or confidence for engaging in healthy dietary behaviors. Confidence in their ability to engage in a behavior, therefore, exceeded their actual engagement in the behavior.

No known study to date has investigated dietary behaviors across different disability types or levels of functional limitations or specifically examined nutritional barriers for women with physical disabilities.