THURSDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- As if obese children did not struggle enough, new research shows that heavier kids suffer pain in their lower joints, report poorer physical function and have worse mental health.
The researchers, from Nationwide Children's Hospital and The Ohio State University, who published their findings recently in the journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, analyzed data from the medical charts of 175 obese children. They looked at age, sex, race, stage of puberty, lower extremity pain, physical function, psychosocial health and physical fitness.
Fifty-one of the children reported that they experience lower extremity pain (hips, knees, ankles and feet), and the same group scored lower on physical function and psychosocial health than those who felt no pain. The more obese a child was, the greater the decline in physical function, psychosocial health and fitness scores, the researchers reported.
"The whole subject is sad to me. Almost 30 percent of our children are overweight and obese," said Dr. Vonda Wright, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She was not involved with the research.
Wright, who often works with young patients, explained: "Our hips and knees bear five to seven times our body weight. These little frames aren't supposed to be carrying 150 pounds of body weight. The heavier the child, the bigger the pressure on the joints and cartilage, and that can be painful. It sets up their soft tissue for inflammation."
Dr. Steven Cohen, a sports medicine surgeon at the Rothman Institute and medical director for the Philadelphia Marathon, said there are many reasons kids are obese, including hormonal issues, but being overweight is strongly connected to diet and inactivity.
"The inactivity related to watching TV and playing video games can have a significant impact on
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