According to a report published by the World Health Organization in 2014, more than one billion people in the world, 18 years and older, are overweight and of these 600+ million are obese. Out of obese population, 41 million children under the age of 5 are overweight or obese. Obesity in children is a growing concern as it often leads to hormonal imbalance, stress, lack of vitamins, which in turn affect overall musculoskeletal health. Obesity can significantly impact the growth and health of bones, joints, and muscles. Too much weight exert pressure on growth plates in the body and pose a great risk of broken bones and other serious musculoskeletal problems such as femoral epiphysis, Blount’s disease, and more. Growing health problems in obese children is one of the primary reasons many bariatric surgeons recommend bariatric surgery. Continuing the discussion, the post outlines the impact of childhood obesity on musculoskeletal health. Take a look.

The impact of childhood obesity on musculoskeletal –

1. Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE)

SCFE, a common orthopaedic (hip) disorder in obese adolescent, usually occurs due to the weakness of growth plates. The condition can lead to chronic hip and knee pain, and an intermittent limp. Hormonal dysfunction due to obesity may alter growth plate function causing child’s hip to slip. In addition, the extra weight exerting force across the proximal femoral growth plate can be another reason for the slip.

2. Blount’s Disease

Blount’s disease, is another musculoskeletal problem that generally occurs in obese paediatric patients. It is a growth disorder of the tibia that causes lower legs to angle inward, resembling a bowleg. Just like SCFE, Blount’s disease can occur due to excess weight and increased stress on growth plate. It is a progressive disease which may lead to degenerative arthrosis in future.

3. Fractures and Related Complications

Fracture in adolescents is more likely to occur during the growth phase, because the metaphyseal, diaphyseal density ratio is very low during this period. Obesity during this phase increases the risk of bone fracture due to falls. Also, growing bones are fragile enough to cope with excess body weight. The weight/bone mass imbalance in the growing bones often leads to joint lesion, ultimately contributing towards osteoarthritis.

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4. Postural Imbalance

Child obesity can play a significant role in altering the postural balance. Obesity is often associated with altering the strength of the articulation required to stabilize the body. While some researches show the association of obesity with the regulation of anteroposterior and mediolateral imbalance, others show that the posture imbalance is usually the outcome of inertial properties of adipose tissues and not the damage of postural control system. Though it still remains a topic of discussion whether the additional mass associated with obesity results in posture imbalance or whether it is higher adiposity in the obese individual that leads to the problem.

Prevention is Better Than Cure

Impact of child obesity on musculoskeletal has surfaced over the recent years. The short- and long- term health conditions related to child obesity is still the subject of investigation and research. In order to reduce weight and build strong bones, obese children must consume diet rich in calcium and nutrients along with regular work out – for at least 30-60 mins a day. Obesity Surgeons in Perth, Australia and other places recommend weight loss surgery to obese children with extremely high BMIs – 40 or above to avoid long term musculoskeletal and other related conditions and complications. To learn more about the association between child obesity and health problems, call us at 08 9370 9686.