Prevalence of obesity and high blood pressure in veterans with spinal cord injuries and disorders: A retrospective review

Frances M. Weaver*, Eileen G. Collins, Jibby Kurichi, Scott Miskevics, Bridget Smith, Suparna Rajan, David Gater

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: A frequent cause of mortality in spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI&D) is cardiovascular disease (CVD). Obesity and high blood pressure (BP) are modifiable risk factors for CVD. DESIGN: Retrospective review of clinical and administrative data for 7959 veterans with SCI&D. Data elements included height, weight, blood pressure, demographics, and level of injury. Analyses included descriptive statistics and generalized logistic regressions. RESULTS: Twenty percent of veterans were obese according to their body mass index (BMI), and 33% were overweight; 22% had high BP (≥140/90 mm Hg). Because BMI underestimates obesity in SCI&D, adjusted BMIs for overweight (23-27 kg/m) and obesity (28+ kg/m) indicate that those overweight increased to 37%, and 31% were obese. Veterans ages 50-64 or who had paraplegia were more likely to be overweight and obese than others; being white or age 65+ was associated with a higher likelihood of being overweight. Veterans who were overweight or obese, black, older (age 50+), and paraplegic were more likely to have higher blood pressure. CONCLUSIONS: Obesity and high BP rates were lower for veterans with SCI&D than the general population. However, because BMI underestimates body adiposity in SCI&D, obesity is likely a much more prevalent problem in this population and warrants attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-29
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Blood Pressure
  • Cardiovascular Risk
  • Obesity
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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