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Body mass index and disability in adulthood: A 20-year panel study


  • Ferraro, K.F.
  • Su, Y.-P.
  • Gretebeck, R.J.
  • Black, D.R.
  • Badylak, S.F.


Objectives. This study examined whether body mass index (BMI) or change in BMI raises the risk of disability in adulthood. Methods. The relation between BMI and upper- and lower-body disability was examined among adult subjects from a national longitudinal survey (n = 6833). Tobit regression models were used to examine the effect of BMI on disability 10 and 20 years later. Results. Obesity (BMI≥30) at baseline or becoming obese during the study was associated with higher levels of upper- and, especially, lower-body disability. In persons who began the study with a BMI of 30 or more and became normal weight, disability was not reduced. Underweight persons (BMI

Suggested Citation

  • Ferraro, K.F. & Su, Y.-P. & Gretebeck, R.J. & Black, D.R. & Badylak, S.F., 2002. "Body mass index and disability in adulthood: A 20-year panel study," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 92(5), pages 834-840.
  • Handle: RePEc:aph:ajpbhl:2002:92:5:834-840_5

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    Cited by:

    1. Richard Burkhauser & John Cawley, 2006. "The Importance of Objective Health Measures in Predicting Early Receipt of Social Security Benefits: The Case of Fatness," Working Papers wp148, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    2. Ross, Kara L. & Zereyesus, Yacob & Shanoyan, Aleksan & Amanor-Boadu, Vincent, 2015. "The Health Effects of Women Empowerment: Recent Evidence from Northern Ghana," International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association, vol. 18(1), pages 1-17, February.
    3. Burkhauser, Richard V. & Cawley, John, 2008. "Beyond BMI: The value of more accurate measures of fatness and obesity in social science research," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 519-529, March.
    4. Cawley, John & Han, Euna & Norton, Edward C., 2009. "Obesity and labor market outcomes among legal immigrants to the United States from developing countries," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 153-164, July.
    5. Y Selvamani & Pushpendra Singh, 2018. "Socioeconomic patterns of underweight and its association with self-rated health, cognition and quality of life among older adults in India," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(3), pages 1-17, March.
    6. Schafer, Markus H. & Ferraro, Kenneth F., 2011. "Distal and variably proximal causes: Education, obesity, and health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(9), pages 1340-1348.
    7. Renna, F. & Thakur, Nidhi, 2010. "Direct and indirect effects of obesity on U.S. labor market outcomes of older working age adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 405-413, July.

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