How being overweight impacts our osteoarticular system

How being overweight impacts our osteoarticular system

// May 5, 2021

Overweight is a condition characterized by an excessive accumulation of body fat, generally due to bad nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle. Nutrition and physical activity are behaviors strongly influenced by social, economic and cultural conditions.


Obesity and overweight are associated with premature death and now universally recognized as risk factors for the main chronic diseases.


A particularly serious problem is that of the onset of obesity among children and adolescents, exposed since childhood to breathing difficulties, reduced mobility, but also disorders of the digestive system and of a psychological nature.


Being overweight is the cause of various types of problems listed above, including joint problems.


The excess kilos weigh on the joints, especially the ankles, knees and back. The excess of weight also speeds up the deterioration of cartilage and consequently cause premature weakening of the joint.

Overweight people therefore have difficulty moving and often suffer from joint discomfort which reduces their flexibility even more. They move with difficulty, they often have pain and sometimes even inflammation in the joints.


Recent international epidemiological studies have also highlighted how subjects with increased body mass are at greater risk of falls and, consequently, of fractures, particularly of the wrist and hip.


The body segment that is most frequently “disturbed” by overweight is certainly represented by the lumbar segment of the vertebral column; very often, in fact, the extra pounds accumulate in the visceral area, on the abdomen. This involves an increase in mass on the anterior portion of the body which leads the subject’s postural system to accentuate the physiological curve of the lumbar lordosis for the maintenance of upright stasis and of walking itself. This compensation mechanism, lumbar hyperlordosis, does not cause problems in the short term, however in the long term it can cause muscle dysfunction, stress and tension on the spine that can lead to a real pathology, with pain, impotence and functional limitation.


There is a significant relationship between body weight and the risk of developing osteoarthritis Research has shown that for every 11kg of weight gained, the relative risk of developing OA increased by 36%! It has been shown that obesity worsens the severity of osteoarthritis and increases its progression. In other words, maintaining a healthy weight can have a substantial positive effect on joint health.


Research has also described that not only weight loss is important, but body composition as well. In fact, the reduction of central fat and leg circumference has been shown to help normalize joint alignment. To put it another way, the reduction of body fat in the abdomen and thighs has been shown to have positive implications for joint health.


Summing up:

  • The more weight you gain, the greater the risk of OA.
  • OA is more severe in people with obesity.
  • OA progresses more rapidly in those who are overweight.
  • Weight loss has positive implications for people with OA.
  • Body composition is important: abdominal obesity negatively affects our weight-bearing joints.
  • Improving body composition can positively affect joint health.


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