Obesity is one of the pressing health issues we face today. Today, obesity is prevalent in all age groups. While awareness regarding its effects has increased, the number of people diagnosed with obesity has doubled since 1980.
While obesity can be prevented, it still remains a concerning health problem in most parts of the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults (18 years or above) were classified as overweight worldwide. Of them, more than 600 million were obese.
Obesity is also rampant in children, with 41 million children under 5 years of age either overweight or obese. These are concerning numbers, which is why obesity should not be taken lightly.
What Is Obesity?
Obesity is defined as having body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, according to the WHO. Overweight is defined as when the BMI is 25 or higher.
Effects On Foot Health
Perhaps one of the least talked about aspects of obesity is foot health. Studies suggest that excessive weight can impact the functionality of the feet. Foot pain is common amongst individuals who suffer from obesity because of the extra pressure on the feet.
A study by Dr Karen Mickle from the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living highlights the impact of obesity on foot health in participants over the age of 60 years. It was found that foot pain was common amongst the participants. Participants also showed slower walking speed, lower stride length, and reduced ankle strength. This highlights the importance of the relationship between bodyweight and foot health.
Foot pain is common in people who suffer from obesity. The risk of developing conditions like diabetes, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, and osteoarthritis is also greater in obese people than it is in individuals with healthy weight. These conditions can arise because of the added stress on the feet, and the changes in walking patterns caused by it.
Changes in the Foot Structure
Foot pain and changes in the foot structure can make it difficult for obese individuals to take up active lifestyles. Changes in the foot structure can affect the movement and function of the feet which, as a result, may lead to the development of health problems and also affect body posture.
There are a number of ways obesity affects the feet. Obesity may cause a flatfoot posture to develop as the excessive pressure on the feet from supporting the body weight can change the structure of the foot.
This leads to unhealthy distribution of weight on the feet which leads to improper foot movements while walking. As the foot arch flattens, the plantar fascia ligament, which runs through the bottom of the foot, stretches excessively, which may cause pain.
Because of the changes in foot structure, the alignment of the bones and muscles may also get affected. This can be a reason why obese individuals experience pain in the ankles, knees, hips, and the lower back. Although obesity is treatable, these conditions make it difficult for a person to get on the right track.
Use of Foot Insoles
First and foremost, there is a no one solution to obesity, and treatment plans will differ from person to person based on several factors. These include age, BMI, current health problems, medical history, hereditary factors, and more.
Customised foot insoles can be prescribed to patients suffering from obesity in order to improve the distribution of weight along the feet. Insoles should be customised according to the individual’s weight, foot flexibility and activity level, and range of motion in the ankle and feet. This will result in fully customised insoles that provide the support needed to make changes in the walking patterns.
MASS4D® custom insoles support the feet in the corrected posture, providing the support needed to promote balance and optimal distribution of weight. The insoles allow the plantar fascia ligament to relax which can help reduce pain in the bottom of the feet.
MASS4D® custom insoles are available in Bi-Lam cushioning top cover that protects the feet from blisters and ulcerations while helping improve function of the feet.
MASS4D® is available at leading health care centres. To find a certified MASS4D® provider near you, get in touch with us today!
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Reference: Obesity and Overweight Fact Sheet by World Health Organisation (as of June 2016) http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/
Reference: Karen J. Mickle, Julie R. Steele (2015) Obese Older Adults Suffer Foot Pain and Foot-related Functional Limitation. Gait Posture: October 2015, Vol. 42, No. 4, pp. 442-447, DOI: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2015.07.013
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