Background: Weight management and adequate nutrition are complex issues for people
with disabilities due to their impairments. This study aimed to assess the nutritional status of people
with disabilities in Kaniyambadi block, a rural area in Tamil Nadu, India.
Methods: People with disabilities were administered Mini-Nutritional Assessment (MNA) scale to assess
their nutritional status. Their level of disability was assessed using the Disability Assessment
Schedule (WHO DAS version 2.0). Anthropometric measures taken were height, weight, demi-arm
span, knee height, mid-arm circumference, calf circumference and abdominal circumference.
Results: A total of 300 people with disabilities were interviewed. As per the MNA scale, 8.3% of people
with disabilities were malnourished and 51.7% of them were at risk for malnutrition. Factors
which were significantly associated with malnutrition and at risk for malnutrition were, the presence
of more than one type of disability (Adjusted odds ratio 2.127, 95% CI 1.093-4.136, p value 0.026)
and severe disability (Adjusted odds ratio 6.106, 95% CI 3.194-11.67, p value 0.001). Negative correlation
was observed between the scores of MNA scale and WHO DAS 2.0. Increase in severity of disability
was correlated with reduced nutritional status, r = -0.647 and p value 0.01.
Conclusion: More than half the study population were either malnourished or were at risk of malnutrition.
Severe disability is associated with malnutrition. Mini-Nutritional Assessment (MNA) proved to
be a useful and simple tool for assessment of nutritional status among people with disabilities. Nutrition
assessment and nutritional therapy could be made a part of rehabilitation in persons with disabilities.