Obesity’s Changing Impact on Disability: 1988-2004

Dawn Alley, University of Pennsylvania

Recent studies suggest that the obese population may have been growing healthier since the 1960s, as indicated by decreases in mortality and cardiovascular risk factors. This analysis investigates whether these improvements have conferred decreased risk for disability. Participants include adults aged 60 and over (N=9,928) from two waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (1988-1994 and 1999-2004). Disability was defined based on self-reported difficulty or inability to perform the following items: functional limitations (walking ¼ mile, walking up ten steps, stooping, lifting 10 pounds, walking between rooms, standing from an armless chair) and activities of daily living (ADL) limitations (transferring, eating, dressing). We find that that the odds of functional impairment increased by 43% (95%CI: 1.18-1.75) among obese persons during this period, but did not change for normal weight persons, while ADL impairment declined in the non-obese population (OR=0.66, 95%CI: 0.50-0.88), but did not change among the obese.

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Presented in Poster Session 3