Childhood Obesity and Foot Pain: Is There a Link?
According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, there is a link between childhood obesity and foot pain—turns out, it’s a vicious cycle.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. The percentage of children aged 6-11 years in the U.S. who are obese has increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2012. Adolescents aged 12-19 years who are obese increased from five percent to nearly 21 percent in the same period.
Oftentimes, overweight children experience foot pain because excess weight can cause the foot to flatten, which puts additional pressure and strain on the band of tissue that runs from the toes to the base of the heel, otherwise known as the plantar fascia. This strain on the plantar fascia can cause a painful condition called plantar fasciitis.
Sever’s disease is also a common ailment associated with overweight children. Sever’s disease is caused by an inflamed growth plate of the heel as a result of muscle strain and repetitive stress. The heel bone is not fully developed until at least 14 years of age.
Calf and arch pain are also common complaints among children who are overweight. The pain is often due to a flexible flat foot and an arch collapse, which can make it difficult to participate in activities like walking and running.
In addition, conditions like bunions, hammer toes, and tarsal coalition can develop as a result of excess weight and genetics.
As mentioned, obesity and foot pain can go hand in hand and be incredibly difficult to combat because it takes exercise, along with a healthy diet, to lose weight. When a child has foot pain, they can’t exercise, which exacerbates their weight problem.
In order to get your child back on their feet without experiencing pain, you should have their feet evaluated by a podiatrist, especially if they have complained of any discomfort. Through custom orthotics and other treatment options, your child can start living pain-free and be able to tackle their weight in a healthy way.