The impact on social capital of mobility disability and weight status: The Stockholm Public Health Cohort

Mattias Norrbäck, M.Sc., Jeroen de Munter, Ph.D., Per Tynelius, M.Sc., Gerd Ahlström, Ph.D., Finn Rasmussen, M.D., Ph.D.



People with mobility disability are more often overweight or obese and have lower social capital than people without mobility disability. It is unclear whether having a combination of mobility disability and overweight or obesity furthers negative development of social capital over time.


To explore whether there were differences in social capital between normal-weight, overweight and obese people with or without mobility disability over a period of 8 years.


We included 14,481 individuals (18–64 at baseline) from the Stockholm Public Health Cohort that started in 2002. Mobility disability, weight status, and social capital (structural: social activities, voting; cognitive: trust in authorities, and trust in people) were identified from self-reports. Risk ratios with 95% confidence intervals were estimated in multivariate longitudinal regression analyses.


We found no significant differences in social activities and voting between the groups over time. However, when compared with the reference group, the groups with mobility disability had less trust in authorities and public institutions over time. Notably, obese people with mobility disability showed the largest decrease in trust in the police (RR = 2.29; 1.50–3.50), the parliament (RR = 2.00; 1.31–3.05), and local politicians (RR = 2.52; 1.61–3.94).


People with mobility disability experience lower cognitive social capital over time than people without mobility disability. Being burdened by both mobility disability and obesity may be worse in terms of social capital than having just one of the conditions, especially regarding cognitive social capital. This finding is of public health importance, since social capital is related to health.