Increasing Obesity Rates and Disability Trends

If It Continues at Its Current Rate, Rising Obesity Could Wipe Out Recent Improvements in Disability Among Older Americans

Published in: Health Affairs, v. 23, no. 2, Mar./Apr. 2004, p. 199-205

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2004

by Roland Sturm, Jeanne S. Ringel, Tatiana Andreyeva

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Are older Americans becoming more or less disabled? Unhealthy body weight has increased dramatically, but other data show that disability rates have declined. The authors use data from the Health and Retirement Study to estimate the association between obesity and disability, and they combine it with trend estimates of obesity rates from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey. If current trends in obesity continue, disability rate will increase by 1 percent per year more in the 50-69 age group than if there were no further weight gain.

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