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Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries

Stress on muscle, bone behind severity of damage, longer recovery, study finds

SATURDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- The bones and muscles of the lower body appear to be more vulnerable to injury in obese children than their lighter peers, a new study suggests.

The study analyzed the weight and injuries of kids who visited a children's hospital's emergency department over a three-year period. Sprains, such as to the ankle or leg, were the most common lower body injuries, and sent more than 23,000 children to the emergency department at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center between 2005 and early 2008.

"Because obese patients have an increased body mass and force, they are more likely to twist or roll on a lower extremity and cause injury than the non-obese children. Other injuries that the patients experienced were fractures and lacerations," study lead author Dr. Wendy Pomerantz, an emergency medicine physician at the hospital, said in a hospital news release.

About one-sixth of the children visiting the hospital's emergency department for injuries during that time were obese, according to the study, scheduled to be presented Saturday in Baltimore at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies.

Pomerantz noted that obesity is likely to also lengthen a child's recovery time from an injury, as the added weight and stress to the body can cause more damage.

Exercise and diet, she said, remain the best ways to combat the growing obesity epidemic in the world. "Parents of an obese child who want the child to exercise but [are] afraid of the child getting injured should work with a specialist to get a tailored diet and exercise regimen to help them lose weight," Pomerantz said.

Obesity in children also increases their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other factors that raise their chances of developing cardiovascular disease, according to information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about childhood obesity.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, news release, May 2, 2009

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