Health care expenditures of overweight and obese U.S. adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Henan Lia,a, Glenn Fujiura,b, Sandra Magaña,c, Susan Parish,d

a Lurie Institute for Disability Policy, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, USA

b Department of Disability and Human Development, The University of Illinois at Chicago, USA

c Steve Hicks School of Social Work, University of Texas at Austin, USA

d Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, USA


Background: U.S. adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have poorer health status and greater risks for being overweight and obese, which are major drivers of health care expenditures in the general population. Health care expenditures and IDD have not been studied using nationally representative samples, and the impact of overweight and obesity have not been examined. Aim: Using nationally representative data, we aimed to compare the health care expenditures of not-overweight, overweight and obese U.S. adults with IDD, and calculate model-adjusted expenditures. Methods and procedures: Pooled data from the 2002–2011 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey linked to National Health Interview Survey (n=1224) were analyzed. Two-part model regressions were conducted, with covariates being year of survey, age, sex, race/ethnicity, household income status, geographical region, urban/rural, marital status, insurance coverage, perceived health status, and perceived mental health status. Outcomes and results: Overall, obese adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities had higher expenditures than their non-obese peers. Being obese was associated with an estimated additional $2516 in mean expenditures and $1200 in median expenditures compared with the reference group, who were neither overweight nor obese. Conclusions and implications: Obesity is an important predictor of higher health care costs among community-living adults with IDD Finding effective strategies and interventions to address obesity in this population has great financial and policy significance.

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