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The Informed Parent

Orthopedic Problems for the Overweight Child

by Peter W. Welty, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Nov. 13, 2006

There is little documented information in the pediatric literature about the orthopedic consequences of being an overweight child. A study published in the June 2006 Journal of Pediatrics described the musculoskeletal consequences of otherwise healthy overweight children.

Medical charts from 227 overweight and 128 non-overweight children were reviewed. Questionnaires were distributed to determine difficulties with mobility. The results showed that the overweight children reported a greater prevalence of fractures and musculoskeletal discomfort compared with non-overweight children. The most common self-reported joint complaint among those who were questioned directly was knee pain, reported in 21.4 percent of overweight children versus 16.7 percent of non-overweight children. Not surprising, overweight children tended to report greater impairment in mobility than did non-overweight children. Overweight children also tended to have greater lower extremity misalignment than did non-overweight children.

The results demonstrated that overweight children tended to have more reported fractures, musculoskeletal discomfort, impaired mobility and lower extremity malalignment as compared to their non-overweight peers. Because these complaints may affect the overweight children's participation in physical activity, orthopedic difficulties may be a crucial part of the cycle which perpetuates the accumulation of excess weight in children.

See your pediatrician for further information on the orthopedic consequences of overweight in children.

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