The numbers say it all: according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over one-third of the U.S. population is obese. And when a disabled individual requires an extra-wide power wheelchair due to their physical size, the chairs simply won’t fit inside most conversion vans. That’s because according to ADA guidelines, standard wheelchairs are only 26” wide, and that simply won’t accommodate an oversize wheelchair passenger.
So what is the difference between overweight and obese? It’s all based on the measurement of a person’s body mass index, or BMI. “Any adult having a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is classified as overweight, and any adult that has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese,” says the CDC. “For children aged 2 to 17, a BMI that is at or above the 85th percentile is considered overweight. Those who are at or above the 95th percentile is considered obese.”
Fortunately, there are extra wide conversion vans available to help transport oversize wheelchairs, providing the much-needed mobility as well as the freedom to socialize and have access to the things they want to do.
Challenges Facing Those with Disabilities
It’s understandable that those with disabilities have problems finding healthy meals and the ability to participate in physical activities, both of which contribute to their inability to lose weight. Based on the lack of healthy food choices, and physical limitations that can reduce a disabled person’s ability to exercise, weight loss is difficult.
In addition, some disabled people have problems with chewing or swallowing, as well as taking medications that bring about changes in appetite and can impact their weight loss. There is also a lack of money, transportation and overall support from family, friends and the community. These problems all add to the many challenges that those with disabilities face on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, those adults and children with disabilities, physical and intellectual, are at a higher risk for obesity. This impacts overall health care costs, because the costs of obesity related to those who have disabilities is estimated to be about $44 billion per year.
Helping Resolve the Problems
Encouraging overweight people with disabilities to eat healthier meals, including more fruits and vegetables and limit foods that are high in fat and sugar can help. There are many programs available at schools and at the workplace that can help people with disabilities and weight problems make healthier choices easier.
The best help for those people with disabilities is to increase their physical activity. Benefits include improved muscle tone, cardiovascular fitness; help prevent diabetes and provide a healthier mental attitude about their weight and disabilities. It would also help lower high blood pressure and prevent stroke and sleep apnea.
For those people who require an extra-wide wheelchair van, the FR Toyota Sienna conversion van has the widest wheelchair ramp available. It features a spacious interior that can accommodate wheelchairs that measure 48 inches wide by 88 inches long. And the second row of the van provides space for a 45-inch wide wheelchair as well.
The bottom line is that providing mobility for those who are overweight and have disabilities using wide body mobility vans provides access to physical activities, as well as an enhanced quality of life.