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A Pilot Study to Profile the Lower Limb Musculoskeletal Health in Children With Obesity

O'Malley, Grace MSc, BSc; Hussey, Juliette MSc, PhD; Roche, Edna MD, FRCPI

doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e31825c14f8
Research Article

Purpose: Evidence suggests a negative effect of obesity on musculoskeletal health in children. A pilot study was undertaken to investigate the presence of musculoskeletal impairments in children with obesity and to explore the relationships among body mass index, physical activity, and musculoskeletal measures.

Methods: Lower limb musculoskeletal health (pain, power, balance, flexibility, and range of motion), physical activity, and screen time were assessed using standardized methods.

Results: Seventeen children (mean age = 12.21 years) participated. Mean values for lower limb musculoskeletal measures are presented. Moderate negative correlations were found between body composition and range of motion, flexibility, and strength. Genu valgum deformity was moderately positively correlated to body mass index.

Conclusions: The results of this pilot study suggest that children who are obese may present with musculoskeletal impairments of the lower limb. Clinicians working with children who are obese should conduct a thorough musculoskeletal assessment and consider the presence of impairments when promoting physical activity.

The authors suggest that children who are obese may present with musculoskeletal impairments of the lower limb and recommend that clinicians perform a musculoskeletal assessment and consider impairments when promoting physical activity.

Physiotherapy Department, Children's University Hospital (Ms O'Malley), Dublin, Ireland; Discipline of Physiotherapy, School of Medicine, University of Dublin Trinity College (Dr Hussey), and Department of Paediatric Endocrinology, Adelaide, Meath and National Children's Hospital (Dr Roche), Dublin, Ireland.

Correspondence: Grace O'Malley, MSc, BSc, Physiotherapy Department, Children's University Hospital, Temple Street, Dublin 1, Ireland (

Grant Support: This work was supported by postgraduate funding granted to GO'M via the Hussey-Gormley Studentship at the University of Dublin, Trinity College.

This work was completed as part of an MSc in research for Ms O'Malley.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.