A Personal Story on How Obesity Affects One Person with a Disability
|James H. Rimmer, Ph.D., Director|
"I am a happy, fairly well adjusted woman of 41 who happens to have cerebral palsy. I am in a great relationship with a man who thinks the world of me and is pretty tolerant of my physical issues. I have a great job, hobbies, friends and pets. My problem: I cannot stop gaining weight! I have never been thin in any sense of the word, but (have had) ongoing weight gain (60 lbs in 4 years, give or take). I have tried to find doctors knowledgeable in CP to better understand if this is normal. My primary care physician is great at helping and exploring options where she can but I am afraid that we are at a crossroads. This weight gain is really going to start wreaking havoc on my mobility and my happiness if I cannot get at least some of it reversed. I love to travel and be as active as my body will allow, but I fear I am going to face a day when my size will impede my adventurous spirit. I have come too far and overcome too many obstacles to find myself confined to an even more sedentary lifestyle. Can you suggest any paths I might try?"
In addition to the numerous medical complications linked to obesity, including higher rates of type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, gall bladder and liver disease, certain forms of cancer, depression and other mental health disorders, people who are obese are more susceptible to social disadvantage and psychological problems due to stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination and stigmatization. In people with disabilities, obesity also presents a greater risk of secondary conditions, defined as preventable medical, emotional, or social problems resulting directly or indirectly from an initial disabling condition.
While obesity is a major health issue among many Americans, the threat is even greater among people with disabilities since their margin of health leaves less room for error.
Please send any questions or comments to Jim Rimmer, NCHPAD Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.