WASHINGTON, Jan 08, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A new study has found obesity is a key cause of the more than 50 percent increase in U.S. disability rates over the last two decades.
The report by healthcare researchers at the Rand Corp. found between 1984 to 1996 the number of people ages 30-49 reporting disabilities increased from 118 to 182 per 10,000 persons.
In the 40-49 demographic, the increase was from 212 to 278 per 10,000 people with smaller increases found in ages 18-29 and 50-59.
The only decrease was in people over the age of 60, a decline of more than 10 percent, despite their greater risk.
While some portion of the increase can be explained by the incentives created by disability insurance and medical advances, the researchers concluded the only factor explaining such a large jump was the significant upward trend in obesity rates over the last 20 years.
It was the only related trend commensurate in size with the increase in disability rates.
In addition, the number of disability cases attributed to musculoskeletal problems such as chronic back pain as well as diabetes -- both illnesses linked to obesity -- grew more rapidly than those from other problems during the period.
Copyright 2004 by United Press International.