How Childhood Obesity Affects Feet

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.” In fact, they say that, “In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese” (CDC 2015). This is a very alarming statistic, which puts our future generation at higher risk of chronic issues later in life, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and bone and joint conditions.

The more immediate health effects of childhood obesity begin at a young age. Obese children and adolescents can have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems (CDC 2015). They are also more likely to be obese when they are older.

Foot Health Effects of Childhood Obesity 

The following are some of the effects that obesity can have on foot health, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

  • Flat Feet are common in obese children, who usually have flatter, wider, and longer feet due to the weight that the feet bear. The feet may have to strain on a day-to-day basis and can lead to pain or injury. Young children may seem to waddle without proper arch formation. This can be remedied with arch support and strengthening of the Achilles tendon.
  • Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) occurs when there is a weakness of the growth plate. The bones that join at the hip and thigh slip out of alignment and development can be affected. There is joint pain and in severe cases, inability to bear any weight on the affected leg.
  • Blount’s Disease is caused by stress on the growth plate, which causes bowing of the legs and improper development of the ankles. When children are younger, it may be corrected with orthotics, but severe cases may need surgery.
  • Fractures and Broken Bones are more likely due to the increased weight that the bones have to hold up. This is worse when children do not have strong bone growth due to inactivity. Recovery and treatment is also compromised because traditional methods (metal plates, screws) may not be strong enough to support bones while healing.

What can you do about it?

Prevention of extraneous weight gain is key in proper development for children. Children should eat healthy and nutritious foods and have active playtime each day. Contact your pediatrician to find a solution to your child’s weight issues.

If your child is suffering from foot or ankle pain due to being overweight, it is best to address them quickly. In addition to trying to lose weight, they may need orthotic supports or other treatment if they have severe issues. Make an appointment today with our board-certified podiatrist, Dr. Carl Ingrassia at Fords Foot and Ankle Care. Call our office in Fords, NJ today at (732) 738-4441.