Health

1 in 5 Americans reports they have a disability, CDC says

One in five Americans report a disability. Limited mobility is the most prevalent disability across the nation.
One in five Americans report a disability. Limited mobility is the most prevalent disability across the nation.
/Katherine Streeter for NPR

One out of five adults lives with a disability in California and nationwide, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The most common disability involves limited mobility, specifically difficulty walking or climbing up stairs, which accounts for one in eight of the disabled, according to the report.

The CDC based the findings on information it began collecting in 2013.  That's when the agency started asking Americans about disabilities as part of its annual Behavioral Risk telephone survey of thousands of households across the nation.  Surveyors asked about vision, cognitive, mobility, self-care and independent living disabilities.

The state with the lowest rate of disability - 16 percent - is Minnesota. Southern states showed the highest rates, with Alabama topping that list at nearly 32 percent.

The report found women, seniors, people of color and those with less education and lower incomes  were more likely to report a disability.

The study didn't indicate why certain geographies or groups have higher rates but experts say it could be because of chronic diseases - such as heart disease and diabetes – are more prevalent among those groups.

"Many of the health issues that people with disabilities face may be addressed by making sure they have access to health promotion programs and health care services, including preventive health screenings, throughout their lifespan," said Georgina Peacock, Director of the CDC’s Division of Human Development and Disability.

From the study: