The Centers for Disease Control report that obesity in children and adolescents has increased by over 100% in the past 30 years. In the last survey, nearly one third of American children under 18 are obese, putting them at risk of chronic health issues later in life, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and bone and joint conditions. Obesity also often negatively impacts mental health, affecting self-esteem and leading to depression, anxiety, and isolation.
Studies have shown that obese children experience more issues related to the development of their bones and muscles than children of lower weights do. Excess weight stresses the bones, tendons and ligaments of their feet, ankles, and lower legs, creating tissue damage and discomfort. Further, the feet of obese children tend to be flatter, longer and wider than those of their non-obese peers. Consequently, they are more likely to experience neck, back, hip, knee, ankle, and foot pain, and they are at increased risk for a wide range of podiatric issues.
Possible problems to be aware of include:
Foot and Ankle Injuries: When children eat poorly and fail to exercise, bones can become brittle. Their bones are likely to be weakened because of the inactivity that causes, and is caused by, obesity. This means that, counter-intuitively, overweight children who are sedentary are more likely to experience a fracture than their more active peers. The constant stress their weight puts on their bones makes it more likely for a sprain or fracture to occur.
Blount’s Disease: Overweight or obese children may present with bowed legs and improper ankle growth as a result of Blount’s Disease. The stress of carrying extra weight can cause these deformities to occur starting from when children are young.
Growth Plate Issues: The heel bone isn’t fully developed until age fourteen. As your child grows, stress and muscle strain from extra weight can cause inflammation of the heel’s growth plate. This condition is called Sever’s disease. It can cause heel pain and walking may become painful. Further, a child with the condition can be susceptible to stress fractures in the heel bone. Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) occurs when there is a weakness of the growth plate at the thigh joint. The bones that join at the hip and thigh slip out of alignment and development can be affected. There is joint pain and in severe cases, inability to bear any weight on the affected leg.
The best way to help your child avoid obesity-related podiatric complications is to guide him or her to a healthier weight through diet and exercise. Until that process is complete, it’s important to see the foot doctor regularly. Jason Grossman, DPM has treated overweight and obese children with sensitivity and care for decades. Call Advanced Feet and Ankle Care at (732) 679-4330 or click here to schedule a convenient appointment for your son or daughter in our comfortable and state of the art Old Bridge or Sayreville offices.
It’s not always easy to buy gifts for the older folks on our holiday lists. Maybe your loved one has moved into senior housing or has become unable to participate in certain hobbies or activities any longer, and you find yourself struggling to think of a gift that they’ll love receiving. Shopping for senior citizens doesn’t have to be stressful...they’ll love gifts for their feet! Create a “Foot Basket” for that hard to buy for elder on your list. Here are some great recommendations from Jason Grossman, DPM:
- Shoe Horn: Diminished flexibility can make it tough for older folks to reach their feet to slip on their shoes. Choose an extra-long shoehorn that “shortens the distance” from hand to foot.
- Foot Spa: Many big box retailers sell at-home footbaths. These are easy to use (just add water!) and refreshing for feet of all ages. Add a bag or box of Epsom salts for extra comfort.
- Lotion or Cream: Add some pleasant-smelling moisturizer to your basket, along with a gift certificate for a relaxing foot massage, either from you or at a local spa. Does grandma or grandpa need a ride? Be sure to volunteer to make yourself available on appointment day.
- New Socks or Slippers: Those lotions, creams, and oils can make the feet slippery and set your loved one up for a dangerous fall. Choose a pair of fuzzy socks with treads or new, warm slippers with thick, supportive rubber soles for extra stability.
- Anti-fatigue mats are typically used in places where people stand for extended periods and floors are made of tile or hard wood, lacking the cushioning provided by carpet. These padded mats can make standing and washing dishes at the kitchen sink or shaving in the bathroom infinitely more comfortable.
Of course, the best gift that you can give anyone you love is the gift of health and wellness. If it’s been a while since your favorite senior has been seen by the podiatrist, click here or call Advanced Feet and Ankle Care at (732) 679-4330 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jason Grossman in our comfortable and convenient Old Bridge or Sayreville offices today. Dr. Grossman will comprehensively examine your loved one’s feet, expertly diagnose any active or potential areas of concern, create an individualized treatment plan, and work with the patient to ensure thorough follow up.