Publication Details

Steele, J. R., Mickle, K. Julie. & Munro, B. (2009). Fat flat frail feet: how does obesity affect the older foot. XXII Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics


The prevalence of obesity is rising throughout the world at an alarming rate, and the elderly are no exception with 15% of men and 28% of women aged over 60 years considered to be obese [1]. Overweight and obesity have been shown to negatively affect foot structure and function in both children [2] and adults [3]. These structural changes appear to be associated with increased foot discomfort whereby overweight children have been found to report foot pain significantly more often than their leaner counterparts [4]. As feet are our base of support during most weight-bearing activities, it is postulated that increased foot pain could act as a deterrent for obese individuals to participate in physical activity and, in turn, perpetuate the cycle of obesity. For this reason compromised foot structure and foot pain associated with obesity is deemed a major health issue for children. However, whether these negative effects associated with childhood obesity persist in the elderly foot has not been comprehensively investigated. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the effects of obesity on foot structure and function, and the foot pain experienced by older adults.