Obesity and Eligibility for Obesity Treatments Among Adults With Disabilities in the U.S.


      Obesity has been associated with disability; yet, the proportion who meet clinical criteria for obesity treatment among adults with disabilities remains poorly defined. Characterization of obesity and treatment eligibility by disability type may prioritize high-need groups. This study assessed the prevalence of obesity and eligibility for antiobesity pharmacotherapy and/or bariatric surgery in adults with disability.


      This cross-sectional weighted analysis of the 2019 National Health Interview Survey, including self-reported health and sociodemographic information, was conducted in 2021. Burden of obesity defined by BMI and odds of meeting consensus criteria for antiobesity pharmacotherapy and/or surgery were calculated by functional disability type: vision, hearing, cognition, communication, mobility, and self-care.


      From 29,170 community-dwelling adult respondents (59.1% response), the overall prevalence of disability was 10%. The prevalence of obesity among adults with a disability was 40.1% vs 30.5% for U.S. adults overall (p<0.0001). An estimated 17.1% with disability met the criteria for both bariatric surgery and antiobesity pharmacotherapy; another 39.8% were eligible for pharmacotherapy alone (vs 7.9% and 33.2%, respectively, for adults overall; p<0.0001). In fully adjusted models, disability was associated with greater ORs for mild obesity (OR=1.2; 95% CI=1.1, 1.4), moderate‒severe obesity (OR=2.1; 95% CI=1.8, 2.3), and criteria for bariatric surgery (OR=2.4; 95% CI=2.1, 2.7) and pharmacotherapy (OR=1.3; 95% CI=1.2, 1.4). Mobility, self-care, and cognition disabilities were associated with eligibility for bariatric surgery and antiobesity pharmacotherapy.


      Individuals with disabilities have higher odds of obesity and eligibility for antiobesity treatments. Comorbidities should be considered, accommodations should be provided, and insurance coverage should be expanded to ensure access to antiobesity treatments for adults with disabilities.
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