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Research

Overweight or Obese?

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Factors explaining the disparity of overweight and obesity among women with disabilities are not well understood.

Overweight and obesity is associated with lower socioeconomic status for women in the general population, and the highest burdens of overweight and obesity are among Mexican-Americans and blacks. Other factors associated with obesity in the general population include family history and behavioral factors, such as poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyle, and frequent dieting.

It is known that, regardless of gender, race/ethnicity, or age, people with disabilities have higher rates of obesity than people without disabilities. Although non-disabled men have slightly higher rates of obesity than non-disabled women, among people with disabilities, women have higher rates of obesity than men.

Some factors associated with obesity in women with disabilities may be similar to those for women without disabilities. For example, women with disabilities have higher rates of poverty and lower income. However, women with disabilities likely have other vulnerabilities that help explain the high rates of overweight and obesity.

Characteristics of a woman's disability may make her more prone to weight gain. For example, women with rheumatic conditions may take steroids, such as prednisone, which are known to cause significant weight gain. Many women with disabilities face significant barriers to adequate diet and physical activity behaviors; a discussion of these barriers to physical activity and nutrition follows below.

The biggest contributing factors to overweight and obesity for women with disabilities are still unknown.

If you know your height and weight, you can calculate your BMI.