Skip To Main Content University of Washington Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
  Department of Rehabilitation Medicine 
  maximizing potential across the lifespan


Obesity and symptoms and quality of life indicators of individuals with disabilities


Salem R, Bamer A, Alschuler K, Johnson K, Amtmann D



Publication Info:

Disability and Health Journal, 7(1):124-130


BACKGROUND: Health risks of obesity are well known, but effects of obesity on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) have not been well-studied in people with physical disabilities.
OBJECTIVE/HYPOTHESIS: We examined the association between obesity and HRQOL in people with disabilities relative to the general US population. We hypothesized (a) overall, individuals with disabilities will report worse HRQOL than the general US population and (b) obese individuals with disabilities will report worse HRQOL than non-obese individuals.
METHODS: Individuals with muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, post-polio syndrome, and spinal cord injury ( N = 1849) completed Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) measures of fatigue, pain interference, physical and social function, depression, sleep disturbance, and sleep-related impairment. Participants were classified as obese or non-obese based on self-reported weight and height (BMI) and/or waist circumference (WC). PROMIS T-scores were compared to norms and between obesity groups.
RESULTS: Mean BMI was 26.4 kg/m 2 with 23.4% classified as obese. Mean WC was 37.5 inches (males) and 34.0 inches (females); 26.4% reported abdominal obesity. Based on BMI and/or WC, 33.3% ( n = 616) were classified obese. Compared to PROMIS norms, obese individuals reported worse HRQOL on all domains ( p < 0.0001). Compared to non-obese individuals, obese individuals reported worse functioning on all domains except depression ( p < 0.01). Obese individuals with MS and MD reported worse outcomes than non-obese counterparts.
CONCLUSIONS: Obesity in people with physical disabilities is associated with poorer HRQOL. More research is needed to inform clinicians in identifying obese patients and helping them achieve healthy weight, reduce symptom burden, and improve QOL.

Link to Article:

Featured Research Articles

Assistive Technology

View the latest research articles on Assistive Technology written by faculty from the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Volunteer to Participate in our Research Studies

The Department of Rehabilitation Medicine is looking for volunteers to participate in research studies on Multiple Sclerosis & Pain Management, and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Level A conformance icon, 
          W3C-WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0
Copyright © 2000-2019 University of Washington