Degree Name

Master of Science (Hons.)


Department of Biomedical Science


Childhood obesity is considered to be reaching epidemic proportions where obese children tend to become obese adults. As obese individuals have increased mass they are at greater risk of developing musculoskeletal dysfunction, which may in tum alter quality of life. One main musculoskeletal concern is the feet of obese individuals, as the feet are the foundation for stance and gait. Musculoskeletal foot pathologies have not been widely investigated in relation to childhood obesity. However, previous research has found a general trend for obese children to have flatfeet and generate higher pressures under the forefoot during gait. These high pressures in the forefoot region have potentially serious negative consequences and urgently need to be further investigated. At present, it is unknown to what extent these flatfeet and higher pressures in the forefoot region can alter foot function. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess foot structure and function, foot sensation and plantar pressure distributions in both an obese and non-obese sample of children aged 6 to 12 years. Sixty-five consenting 6 to 12 year olds participated in the assessment of foot structure, function, sensation and plantar pressure. Of the sample tested, 10 children classified as obese according to BMI for age and gender criteria and 10 non-obese children matched for age, height and gender participated as subjects. A pedograph was used to characterise shape of the plantar surface whereas 26 anthropometric foot measurements per limb were undertaken to assess foot dimensions and foot shape. The foot sensations of pressure and vibration were then assessed on the plantar surface of the subject's feet. Static and dynamic rearfoot alignment and rearfoot motion were recorded in twodimensions using a video camera while plantar pressures were recorded using the Novel AT-4 system® (25 Hz). After processing, pedograph, anthropometry, sensation, rearfoot alignment, motion, and plantar pressure data were analysed using appropriate statistics to determine the effects of obesity on the dependent variables.