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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
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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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