Overweight Youths More Susceptible to Joint Pain
A National Institutes of Health studyshowed that children and adolescentswho are overweight are more likelythan normal-weight ones to have bonefracture and joint and muscle pain. Thestudy included 355 black and whitechildren and adolescents from theWashington, DC, area—227 were overweightand 128 were not overweight,as determined by body mass index. Allparticipants underwent a physicalexamination and answered a questionnairedetermining what effect, if any,their weight had on their quality of life.Participants responded to statementssuch as "I have trouble using stairs" and"I have trouble getting up from chairs." Researchers employed a dual-energy xrayabsorptiometry technique to gaugethe effect of weight on the feet, ankles,and knees. They saw that overweightyouths were more likely to experiencebone fractures and muscle and jointpain than those who were not overweight.The young people's most commoncomplaint was knee pain—21.4%of the overweight group and 16.7% ofthe nonoverweight group. Although theheavier youths had greater bone densitythan the nonoverweight group, it didnot protect them from fractures,because they would fall with greaterforce. The study authors encouragealternate modes of exercise to alleviatejoint strain, such as bicycling and swimming.The study was reported in theJune 2006 issue of Pediatrics.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medicalwriter based in Wakefield, RI.