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Ethnic groups have higher risk of developing a physical disability

Men and women from a South Asian background are more likely to develop a physical disability and struggle with day-to-day physical activities throughout adulthood compared with their White British counterparts, new research published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, reports.

Examining data from 40,000 men and women from White British, South Asian (people originating from the Indian subcontinent) and African Caribbean backgrounds, researchers from the University of Surrey investigated whether different ethnic groups in the UK are more likely to have an increased risk of developing a physical disability and have problems with physical functioning than their White counterparts.

Physical functioning was determined by the extent to which a participant’s ability to climb stairs and take part in moderate activities was limited by their health. A person was deemed to have a physical disability if they reported difficulties in mobility, manual dexterity and physical coordination or balance.

Researchers found that those from a South Asian background, at every stage of adulthood, were more likely to experience poor physical functioning and had an increased risk of developing a physical disability than their White counterparts. This ethnic difference was most pronounced in women, with older South Asian women (over the age of 60) being four times more likely to report having a physical disability compared with older White British women of the same age. The increased risk among South Asians could not be attributed to socioeconomic status or existing major health conditions such as diabetes, which is particularly prevalent among UK South Asian people.

 

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