Social capital and work participation among people with mobility disability and overweight

Sammanfattning: People with disabilities or who are overweight/obese may have fewer opportunities and experience more barriers to a social participation and working life than people without disabilities or overweight/obesity. Even less is known about the social and working life participation of people who are burdened with both mobility disability (MD) and obesity. This relatively large group of people may not be given equal opportunities to social inclusion and work as people without MD and/or overweight/obesity. This thesis focuses on Swedish people between 19 and 64 years of age who have participated in population-based surveys of health and living conditions. Specific questions on weight (kg), height (m), and MD were used to identify the study populations. People with a BMI ≥ 18.5 kg/m2 and/or MD (six study groups in total) were compared with a reference group of people without MD and of normal weight, and also with people who had only one of these conditions. Outcomes investigated between the study groups were social capital (reflecting broader aspects of social participation), work environment, disability pension, and unemployment. The results showed that when compared with the reference group, people with MD and obesity did not differ in structural social capital over time, but had lower cognitive social capital over time. They were also more exposed to demanding work environments, over which they had little or no control. It was also found that people with MD and obesity were at much higher risk of being prematurely excluded from the working life through disability pension, and were more likely to be unemployed, with more unemployment days on average per year. The results also showed that people with MD and obesity did not differ on most study outcomes compared with other people with MD only. It thus seemed that MD has a greater impact on social and work participation than overweight/obesity. In conclusion, people with MD (with or without overweight/obesity) had difficulties in participating in several important domains of social life, which remains a great challenge for public health practitioners, policy makers, and politicians in Sweden

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