Study Finds Obesity Changes Foot Structure and the Way Children Walk A Study of 200 children aged nine to 12 years revealed that excessive
body mass led to structural foot changes. Obese children had feet that
were up to 15mm (.6 inches) longer and seven (.3 inches) millimeters
wider than feet in normal weight children, rising to 18mm longer and 15mm
wider in severely obese children. Another study of nine to 11 year olds
found excessive boy mass led to instability when walking, with obese
children spending significantly more time balancing on two feet when
walking; less time on one foot than normal weight children, and walked at a
Feet bear the brunt of body weight in every stride. The foot is highly
specialized part of the body, made up of 26 bones, around 19 muscles,
ad large number of ligaments, tendons, blood vessels and nerves. The
normal foot is designed to absorb the shock of walking and running by
under the influence of excess weight and obesity, the delicate, immature
nature of children's feet can make them particularly susceptible to
deformity an structural abnormalities.
Dr. Stewart Morrison, lecturer, University of East London, who carried
out the research at Glasglow Caledonain University, Division of
Podiatric Medicine and Surgery said,
"There are several potential causes of the structural changes in
children's feet. It may be that the extra weight puts greater pressure on the
joint interactions in the foot, leading to disruption in the way the
foot aligns and functions; there may be a hormonal association with the
excessive mass; excess fatty tissue or increased bone formation."
Mr. Gordon Watt, consultant pediatric podiatrist said,
"From a clinical point of view this research is very important as it
flags up to the podiatrist the 'at risk' nature of the foot in the child
who is overweight or obese. Clinicians have been aware for some time of
particular problems associated with these children but this research
provides evidence that obesity and being overweight has an effect, not
onlly on the development of the foot, but also on the way the foot and
lower limb functions during walking."
(Source: The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, November 24,
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