Date Published: 20 January 2009
Are weight and obesity disabling our children?
Preliminary research suggests that children who are overweight are four times more likely to have joint pain than children of a “normal” weight and find it harder to move around and be active in their daily lives.
Associate Professor Jeff Walkley said being overweight puts extra load on the body, which could lead to functional muscle weakness, movement problems and pain.
“This is likely to be even more of an issue in children who are growing rapidly, but very little research has been done,” Associate Professor Walkley said.
“Although reducing obesity seems the obvious solution, we know this is challenging, so in the meantime we need to investigate what impact obesity has on the body so we can intervene to improve physical function and reduce pain.
If we can improve physical function in overweight children, then this will help them to be more active, which will help them to manage their weight in the long term.”
Obesity has been shown to increase the risk of back pain and arthritis, which are common causes of disability. In 2005, obesity-related disability was estimated to cost Australia more than $855 million.
Being overweight can also have an impact on a child’s education: children who carry excess weight have poorer educational outcomes when compared to their healthier colleagues and often suffer sleeplessness and fatigue.
Children aged 10 to 13 years are needed for the RMIT study into the impact of excess weight on physical function.
Volunteers receive personalised advice about healthy living as well as a detailed health assessment.
Participants in the study would need to attend a physical health assessment at RMIT’s Bundoora campus, monitor their activity and complete some questionnaires and telephone interviews.