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J Prev Med Public Health. 2012 Jul;45(4):211-8. doi: 10.3961/jpmph.2012.45.4.211. Epub 2012 Jul 31.

Differences in obesity rates between people with and without disabilities and the association of disability and obesity: a nationwide population study in South Korea.

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Department of Health Policy and Management, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Korea.



The objective of this study was to identify the differences in obesity rates among people with and without disabilities, and evaluate the relationship between obesity rates and the existence of disabilities or characteristics of disabilities.


Mass screening data from 2008 from the National Disability Registry and National Health Insurance (NHI) are used. For analysis, we classified physical disability into three subtypes: upper limb disability, lower limb disability, and spinal cord injury. For a control group, we extracted people without disabilities by each subtype. To adjust for the participation rate in the NHI mass screening, we calculated and adopted the weight stratified by sex, age, and grade of disability. Differences in obesity rates between people with and without disabilities were examined by a chi-squared test. In addition, the effect of the existence of disabilities and grade of disabilities on obesity was examined by multiple logistic regression analysis.


People with disabilities were found to have a higher obesity rate than those without disabilities. The obesity rates were 35.2% and 35.0% (people with disabilities vs. without disabilities) in the upper limb disability, 44.5% and 34.8% in the lower limb disability, 43.4% and 34.6% in the spinal cord injury. The odds for existence of physical disability and grade of disability are higher than the non-disabilities.


These results show that people with physical disability have a higher vulnerability to obesity.


Body mass index; Disabled persons; Obesity; Physically disabled

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