Obesity is defined by the World Health Organisation as ‘excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health’, and the problem is far more common than you might expect. The UK (where cheap, high-calorie food and drink is readily available and sedentary, desk-bound lifestyles are the norm) is a case in point: around 25% of the adult population here is obese.
If you’re concerned about your weight, calculating your Body Mass Index is a good idea. A simple way to do this is to use the NHS BMI Calculator. This will show you if you’re a healthy weight for your height, overweight or obese. Individuals struggling with obesity have a BMI of 30 or more and are likely to be at least 30 pounds over their optimum weight.
As you can tell, being obese is much more serious and problematic than carrying a few extra pounds.
Excess Weight Puts Excess Pressure on Feet
Our feet have the crucial job of supporting our bodies whenever we’re standing or being active. However, the foot is a complex, delicate structure, and its bones, tissues, joints, etc. aren’t designed to cope with excess weight and the excess pressure that creates.
The heavier an individual is, the more strain his/her feet will be under and the more likely foot problems are to develop. That’s why obesity can be extremely bad news for feet.
Key Obesity-Related Foot Issues
- Splayed feet – the combination of an accumulation of fat and excess pressure makes feet flatter and wider with fallen arches. Shoes that once fitted well may now be too tight and rub the skin, leading to blisters, sores, corns and calluses.
- Overpronation – if your arches have flattened out, your feet may roll inwards too much when you walk and struggle to cope with the impact of striking the ground.
- Plantar fasciitis – this occurs when the dense strip of shock-absorbing tissue that runs along your sole swells or is damaged due to being under too much stress. Sufferers experience agonising, intense heel pain, and the healing process is slow.
- Gout – this joint disease can cause sudden, excruciating pain in your big toe. It’s associated with rich, fatty, indulgent foods and beverages, such as bacon, pork and beer. They’re high in purines, substances that raise your body’s uric acid levels. A gout attack happens when uric acid crystals build up around the big toe joints.
- Osteoarthritis – the foot has 30 joints, and the wear and tear they sustain due to excessive pressure is detrimental to the cartilage and bones. The result is joint pain, stiffness, inflammation and a loss of flexibility.
- Diabetic foot issues – being obese is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, a condition characterised by high blood sugar levels. Diabetes can impair the blood flow to your feet, increasing the time it takes for injuries and infections to heal, and damage nerves, potentially leading to numbness and deformities.
What’s more, if your feet suffer from these kinds of issues, problems may also develop further up the kinetic chain (i.e. the chain of movement), in areas such as the ankles and knees.
Poor Foot Health Can Impede Weight Loss
If you’re obese and worried about the health implications, your GP can advise you about how to lose weight safely. In addition, charities such as Obesity UK offer valuable support.
We all know exercise is vital, especially if you have weight loss goals. But foot complaints (and associated issues) can decrease your mobility and make being active unpleasant.
Professional Foot Care for Problems Linked to Obesity
Our skilled London chiropody team can work with you to relieve obesity-related foot problems. For example, we can determine the nature and severity of the issues with a biomechanical assessment, provide custom-made orthotic insoles to correct abnormalities and make movement more comfortable, and suggest exercises to reduce stiffness.
Experienced Chiropodists at London Foot Clinics
At Feet By Pody, we pride ourselves on the quality of our care and our friendly, patient-focused approach.