Effects of childhood obesity on three-dimensional knee joint biomechanics during walking

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Despite the increasing percentages of children who are overweight, few studies have investigated their gait patterns. The purpose of this study was to quantify the three-dimensional knee joint kinematics and kinetics during walking in children of varying body mass and to identify effects associated with obesity. Three-dimensional kinematics and kinetics were collected from children of normal weight and overweight during normal gait using surface-mounted infrared emitting diodes and a force plate. The overweight group walked with a significantly lower peak knee flexion angle during early stance, and no significant differences in peak internal knee extension moments were found between groups. However, the overweight group showed a significantly higher peak internal knee abduction moment during early stance. These data suggest that although overweight children may develop a gait adaptation to maintain a similar knee extensor load, they may not be able to compensate for alterations in the frontal plane, which may lead to increased medial compartment joint loads. Therefore, assuming that the development of varus angular deformities of the knee joint and, in the longer term, medial compartment osteoarthritis are influenced by cumulative stress, this study supports the understanding that childhood obesity may impart a greater risk for the development of these diseases. Copyright © 2005 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics

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