Obesity is associated with functional disability in adults with chronic pain, but less is known about obesity among youth with chronic pain. The purpose of this study was to (1) identify the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents receiving treatment for chronic pain, and (2) examine associations between Body Mass Index (BMI), pain intensity, and activity limitations in this population.
Data were obtained from records of 118 patients, ages 8 to 18, seen in a multidisciplinary pediatric pain clinic. Information about age, sex, pain problem, duration and severity, medical diagnoses, medications, height, and weight were collected from medical records and intake questionnaires. The CDC's pediatric BMI calculator was used to obtain percentile and category (underweight, healthy weight, overweight, obese). Children and parents completed the Child Activity Limitations Interview-21 (CALI-21), a self-report measure of activity limitations.
A significantly higher rate of overweight and obesity was observed among youth with chronic pain compared with a normative sample. BMI percentile was predictive of concurrent limitations in vigorous activities, according to parent report.
BMI percentile and weight status may contribute to activity limitations among children and adolescents with chronic pain. Weight status is an important factor to consider in the context of treatment of chronic pain and disability in children and adolescents.