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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013

Activity Limitation

Activity limitation refers to a person's inability, due to a chronic physical, mental, emotional, or behavioral condition, to participate fully in age-appropriate activities. Age-appropriate activities for children ages 5–17 consist of a child's ability to complete regular school work and perform other activities, including self-care and walking. Activity limitation is a broad measure of health and functioning affected by a variety of chronic health conditions. The causes of activity limitation most often reported by parents of children ages 5–17 include learning disabilities, speech problems, and other mental, emotional, and behavioral problems.128

Indicator Health5: Percentage of children ages 5–17 with activity limitation resulting from one or more chronic health conditions by gender, 2000–2011
Percentage of children ages 5–17 with activity limitation resulting from one or more chronic health conditions by gender, 2000–2011

NOTE: Children are identified as having activity limitation by asking parents (1) whether children receive special education services and (2) whether they are limited in their ability to walk, care for themselves, or participate in other activities. "Activity limitation indicated by participation in special education" only includes children identified solely by their use of special education services. "Activity limitation indicated by all other limitations" includes limitations in self-care, walking, or other activities, and children in this category may also receive special education services. Chronic health conditions are conditions that once acquired are not cured or have a duration of 3 months or more.

SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey.

  • In 2011, about 9 percent of children ages 5–17 were reported by parents to have activity limitation due to chronic conditions. Seven percent of children ages 5–17 were identified as having activity limitation solely by their participation in special education, and 2 percent had limitations in their ability to walk, care for themselves, or participate in other activities.
  • Activity limitation, particularly when identified only by participation in special education, was reported more often for male (12 percent) children than for female (7 percent) children.
  • In 2011, approximately 12 percent of children living below the poverty level and 10 percent of children living in families with incomes 100–199 percent of the poverty level had activity limitation, compared with 8 percent of children with family incomes 200 percent or more of the poverty level.
  • Among children of different racial and ethnic origins, Hispanic (7 percent) children were less likely than White, non-Hispanic (10 percent) and Black, non-Hispanic (11 percent) children to have a parental report of activity limitation.

table icon HEALTH5 HTML Table

128 National Center for Health Statistics. (2010). Health, United States, 2009: With special feature on medical technology. Limitation of activity: Children (pp. 38–39). Hyattsville, MD: Author.