And Obesity Hurts, Study Says
–Now Tell Us Something We Don’t Know–
Get away from the Playstation and Breaking Bad and get
up and move– even if only for a minute or two every day.
The more obese a person is, the more likely the risk that they will suffer from low back pain, but they may be able to reduce the odds by engaging in a moderate amount of exercise, according to recent research.
The research, which was presented yesterday at the North American Spine Society’s annual meeting, analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey involving 6,796 people.
The research paper financed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics is the latest to link weight and exercise to one of the most common conditions afflicting Americans– back pain.
It’s one of the first studies using an objective measure of Body Mass Index (BMI) accelerometers that track a person’s daily exercise levels.
BMI is the proportional relationship between a person’s height and weight: a person who is 5 feet 10 inches and 174 pounds has a BMI of 25. Contrastly, a person who is 5 feet 10 inches but weighs in at 251 pounds is considered obese– and has a BMI of 36.
It found that people of normal weight, defined as a BMI of 20 to 25, had a low risk of back pain at 2.9%.
In those who were overweight, which is a BMI of 26 to 30, low back pain risk increased to 5.2%. In the obese with a BMI of 31 to 35, the risk grew to 7.7%. And in the morbidly obese, a BMI of 36 or more, the risk was 11.6%
“We showed both increased BMI and inactivity were risks for low back pain,” said lead author Matthew Smuck, a physician and associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Stanford University Medical Center.
“Perhaps the best news out of this study is that big gains can be made by making some incredibly modest changes in activity,” Smuck said.
The researchers found simple ways to significantly achieve the improvements:
The typical overweight person increasing their amount of moderate activity such as brisk walking, riding a bike or general gardening by less than 20 minutes a day can reduce back pain risk by 32%.
For those with BMIs of 36 or more, the average duration of time spent during a bout of moderate activity was 1.3 minutes. However, by increasing that time by one minute, the risk of back pain
For years, anecdotal evidence has led spine specialists to tell overweight people to lose weight and exercise. Now there is hard data to back up those beliefs, said Michael Reed, a physical therapist and spine specialist with the Hospital for Special Surgery in Jupiter, Fla.
One question the study could not answer is why obesity increases the risk of low back pain.
Two leading theories are that it causes mechanical changes that affect the spine or that it causes metabolic changes that lead to varying levels of hormones and inflammation.
“I suspect it could be a combination of the two,” Reed said.
Either way, Reed said, increasing activity, which can be as simple as gardening, heavy house work or a walk around the neighborhood, can help reduce low back pain and offers a significant preventative alternative to surgery.
No duh. Now back to the chips and dip and Grand Theft Auto.