Obesity and Back Pain

by Dr. John Roberts V, MD 15. July 2014 12:32

dr. john roberts

The data released by the America Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Obesity Study is sobering: 38 states have obesity rates over 25%, and only one state, Colorado, has an obesity rate below 20%. As recently as 20 years ago not a single state had an obesity rate over 15%. To frame it slightly differently, the 2010 Census indicated the U.S. population has reached 308,000,000 souls. Let’s assume 25%, or 77 million people are obese, and the average height of a person is 5 feet seven inches. The difference between overweight and obese for a 67inch tall person is approximately 32 pounds. This equates to Americans unnecessarily carrying around 246,000,000 pounds, or roughly the equivalent of two aircraft carriers, on their backs, every day! It is like carrying a medium –sized suitcase with you everywhere you go. How this affects the human spine is quite simple. The spine is comprised of several complimentary curves that hold us in balance. This accounts for the normally seen gentle curve of the neck and of the lumbar spine. Placing a large part of the body mass in front of this natural line of balance throws balance out of place and recruits muscles to secondarily support the weight. It doesn’t take much of an insult to injure the already overburdened and unbalanced spine. Consequently, 87% of all spine care providers agree that obesity is potentially the number causative factor in developing low back pain. It’s simple math: lose the weight or likely join the ranks of those with chronic low back pain.

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Comments (1) -

7/16/2015 12:29:17 AM #

Very interesting data, Dr Roberts! And quite disturbing too, thinking of American obesity in terms of aircraft carriers!! Your perspective is very much appreciated, and refreshing coming from a well established surgeon such as yourself. Please keep your entries coming!

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