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J Res Med Sci 2016,  21:26

Obesity in people with disability: The implications for health care expenditures

1 Department of Health Management and Economics, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
2 Department of Rehabilitation Management, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
3 Department of Health Management and Economics, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran; Social Development & Health Promotion Research Center, Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Kermanshah, Iran

Date of Web Publication08-Apr-2016

Correspondence Address:
Shahin Soltani
Department of Health Management and Economics, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1735-1995.179895

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How to cite this article:
Moradi F, Sarabandi A, Soltani S. Obesity in people with disability: The implications for health care expenditures. J Res Med Sci 2016;21:26

How to cite this URL:
Moradi F, Sarabandi A, Soltani S. Obesity in people with disability: The implications for health care expenditures. J Res Med Sci [serial online] 2016 [cited 2021 Oct 18];21:26. Available from: https://www.jmsjournal.net/text.asp?2016/21/1/26/179895


Obesity is a major cause of morbidity and mortality and is associated with high medical expenditures. [1] Lack of healthy eating habits and lack of regular physical activity are common factors associated with obesity in people with disabilities. [2] This might be due to a lack of healthy food choices, difficulty with chewing or swallowing food, or taste or texture of food, medication that can contribute to weight gain and changes in appetite, pain, physical limitation, or lack of energy. Obesity can result in significant societal and personal costs. [2] Today, the relationship between obesity, disability, and health care expenditures is strengthening [Figure 1] and studies have shown that obesity among people with disabilities can reduce opportunities, certain types of community participation such as employment and leisure. [3],[4] Children and adults with mobility limitations and intellectual or learning disabilities are at the greatest risk for obesity. Compared with 15% of children of the same ages without special health-care needs, 20% of children 10-17 years of age are obese. [5]
Figure 1: Relationship between disability, obesity, and health care expenditures

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Studies indicate that obesity expenditures is higher for people with disabilities compared to people without disabilities, due to mobility limitation, additional monitoring needed, and medical care. [6] In the United States, annual health care costs of obesity related to disability have been estimated to be approximately $44 billion. [7] Andersen et al. found that average additional expenditures for obesity among people with disabilities were $2,459 compared to an average additional $889 for obese people without disabilities. [8] Additionally, in 2007, the UK's Office for Science Foresight Program 22 reported that the obesity will add £5.5 billion in medical costs to the National Health Service by 2050. [9]

Unfortunately, there is only one study about obesity in people with disabilities. Yaghubi et al., found that more than half of the samples (n = 83) were obese and overweight. [10] As health care researchers and providers, we should play a leading role in the researches and prevention of obesity among persons with disabilities in Iran. People with disabilities face different problems, and obesity is just one of them. The economic burden of obesity is considerable and health policymakers should pay more attention to this in Iran. The government needs to lead obesity prevention, but so far, few have shown leadership. A comprehensive approach will be needed to address the problem. Different interventions should be applied to change long-term behavioral and dietary habits. Furthermore, people with severe disabilities need more standard technologies and tools for eating foods and for this their needs should be assessed scientifically and correctly.

  Conclusion Top

Obesity and its health care costs are increasing in countries of high, middle, and low income. Thus, effective policies and strategies should be developed to reduce the prevalence of obesity.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Van Baal PH, Polder JJ, de Wit GA, Hoogenveen RT, Feenstra TL, Boshuizen HC, et al. Lifetime medical costs of obesity: Prevention no cure for increasing health expenditure. PLoS Med 2008;5:e29.  Back to cited text no. 1
Rimmer JH, Yamaki K. Obesity and intellectual disability. Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev 2006;12:22-7.  Back to cited text no. 2
de Winter C, Bastiaanse LP, Hilgenkamp TI, Evenhuis HM, Echteld MA. Overweight and obesity in older people with intellectual disability. Res Dev Disabil 2012;33:398-405.  Back to cited text no. 3
Sturm R, Ringel JS, Andreyeva T. Increasing obesity rates and disability trends. Health Aff (Millwood) 2004;23:199-205.  Back to cited text no. 4
Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative. National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs, Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health website. 2007;6:9. Retrieved from www.cshcndata.org.  Back to cited text no. 5
Dixon JB. The effect of obesity on health outcomes. Mol Cell Endocrin 2010;316:104-8.  Back to cited text no. 6
Finkelstein EA, Trogdon JG, Cohen JW, Dietz W. Annual medical spending attributable to obesity: Payer-and service-specific estimates. Health Aff (Millwood) 2009;28:w822-31.  Back to cited text no. 7
Anderson WL, Wiener JM, Khatutsky G, Armour BS. Obesity and people with disabilities: The implications for health care expenditures. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2013;21:E798-804.  Back to cited text no. 8
Wang YC, McPherson K, Marsh T, Gortmaker SL, Brown M. Health and economic burden of the projected obesity trends in the USA and the UK. Lancet 2011;378:815-25.  Back to cited text no. 9
Yaghoubi M, Esmailzadeh H, Yaghoubi G. Relationship between physical activity and prevalence of obesity and overweight in the disabled and veterans. J Mil Med 2013;14:245-8.  Back to cited text no. 10


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