Weight Management for People with Disability

Recent study shows that if you have a disability and you are confined to a wheelchair, the chances of you being obese or overweight are higher than those that have no disabilities. On the other hand, there are disabled people who are susceptible to unwanted loss of weight. For example, a disabled may find difficulty in eating and swallowing food. He may also lose muscle mass, which results to weight loss. Fortunately, help for the disabled in managing weight is available, since there are a number of management strategies that can help the disabled manage their weight successfully. An expert advice may be given by a dietician or doctor.

Contributing Factors to Weight Problems

There are contributing factors, which has been found out to contribute to unwanted weight gain or weight loss on people with disability. These include the following:

  • Reduction in muscle mass
  • Lack of regular exercise and decrease in mobility
  • A certain medical disorder that affects the rate of metabolism
  • Medications that have an effect on appetite
  • Anxiety, frustration, boredom and depression which can affect eating habits
  • Lack of proper knowledge of weight management and nutrition
  • Dependence on caretakers or family members for meals

There are many ways to calculate the weight that is ideal for a person, like the popular BMI or Body Mass Index. However, such methods may not be applicable to people who have disability. For instance, the weight of a disabled person may be lower than what is ideal for the general population but the smaller muscle mass in his arms and legs is not taken into account. In general, for a person that is obese, a good indicator would be the waist to hip ratio. If the measurement of the waist is more than that of the hip, the person may be overweight. The disparity need not be large and losing from five to 10 centimeters off the measurement of the waist can have a substantial effect in reducing heart disease, diabetes and other medical conditions. A dietician or doctor can give advice in the calculation of the ideal weight range of a person with disability. He can also offer strategies that are helpful in achieving weight goals.

Disability Help? Diet suggestions for losing Weight

A slow but steady weight loss is a healthy way of getting your ideal weight. A dietician can help you with this but some suggestions that you may do are the following:

  • Healthy and Balanced Diet? This should include cereals, breads, fruits and vegetable and they should form a large part of your regular diet. You may include low fat dairy products and meat but only in small proportions. Fatty and fried foods should be eaten in moderation.
  • More Fibers? Foods that are rich in fibers give a feeling of fullness without the additional calories. Ideally, you should have about 30 grams of fibers every day.
  • Avoid Overeating? More weight will be gained if you continuously ingest more calories that what is needed by your body. It is recommended that you avoid eating if you are not hungry and eat only foods that are low in fat.
  • Improve on Existing Recipes? Most existing recipes can be converted to low fat meals without much hassle. For example, you can eliminate cooking oils by cooking meals for people with disability in non-stick pans. Non-fat yoghurt can be used to replace cream. Food can also be roasted, baked or grilled instead of being fried.

Aside from these suggestions and regular exercise, people with disability should also make it a habit to read labels on packaged foods for their nutrition content.

More topics regarding disabled:

- The Athlete.org