Overweight and obesity are both labels for ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height. The terms also identify ranges of weight that have been shown to increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems. Behavior, environment, and genetic factors can affect whether a person is overweight or obese.
For adults, overweight and obesity ranges are determined by using weight and height to calculate a number called the “body mass index” (BMI). BMI is used because, for most people, it correlates with their amount of body fat.
- An adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.
- An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
Among children of the same age and sex, overweight is defined on CDC growth charts as a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and lower than the 95th percentile. Obesity is defined as having a BMI at or above the 95th percentile.
Challenges Facing People with Disabilities
People with disabilities can find it more difficult to eat healthily, control their weight, and be physically active. This might be due to:
- A lack of healthy food choices.
- The difficulty with chewing or swallowing food, or its taste or texture.
- Medications that can contribute to weight gain, weight loss, and changes in appetite.
- Physical limitations that can reduce a person’s ability to exercise.
- A lack of energy.
- A lack of accessible environments (for example, sidewalks, parks, and exercise equipment) that can enable exercise.
- A lack of resources (for example, money, transportation, and social support from family, friends, neighbors, and community members).
What can be done?
Obesity is a complex problem that requires a strong call for action, at many levels, for both adults as well as children. More efforts are needed, and new federal initiatives are helping to change our communities into places that strongly support healthy eating and active living.
All people can:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer foods high in fat and sugar.
- Drink more water instead of sugary drinks.
- Watch less television.
- Support breastfeeding.
- Promote policies and programs at school, at work, and in the community that makes the healthy choice the easy choice.
- Be more physically active.
Physical Activity for People with Disabilities
Evidence shows that regular physical activity provides important health benefits for people with disabilities. External Benefits include improved cardiovascular and muscle fitness, mental health, balance, and a better ability to do tasks of daily life.
The Obesity Epidemic
Obesity affects different people in different ways and may increase the risk for other health conditions among people with and without disabilities.
People with Disabilities
- Children and adults with mobility limitations and intellectual or learning disabilities are at greatest risk for obesity.
- 20% of children 10 through 17 years of age who have special health care needs are obese compared with 15% of children of the same ages without special health care needs.