A recent study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, has begun to shed light on the long-term effects on the feet of children who are overweight or obese. While it has long been accepted that overweight children have “flatter feet” than considered “normal” among children, questions remained as to whether this was caused by the extra padding obese children had in their feet, or if this condition indicated a long-term potential for structural foot problems in overweight children. The study indicates that both may be the case.

iStock_000016899615XSmallThe doctors at the Foot & Ankle Center of Washington, Dr. Larry Huppin and Dr. Doug Hale, specialize in the treatment of children’s feet, with a national reputation developed over more than two decades in practice, for developing effective, conservative treatment protocols for a wide variety of foot problems.

What the study indicates

Using ultrasound imaging to measure the bottoms of the feet of 150 children ages 6 to 10, ½ of whom were obese while ½ were not, the researchers discovered that not only did the obese children have an increased layer of fat padding their feet, they also tended to have flatter arches in their feet. While not conclusive as to cause the cause of lowered arches among obese children, and while more research is necessary, the logical conclusion form this is that children who carry excessive weight may be doing damage to the arches of their feet.

What we have learned about the feet of obese children

In more than 20 years of practice each in their Seattle foot an ankle clinic, doctors Hale and Huppin have found that treating flat feet in overweight children through the use of custom orthotics or prefabricated orthotics, to support and protect the feet while a child loses weight, is very effective. In fact, they have found that once the child loses weight, the orthotics are often no longer required. This seems to indicate that the logical conclusion mentioned above is valid.

While your child may not, at the moment, be suffering from discomfort or pain due to flat feet, the long-term consequences if left untreated may become severe. For more detailed information, please visit our Children’s flat feet page.

If your child is struggling with weight issues, whether or not he or she is complaining of foot pain, you would be wise to visit our Seattle office for a comprehensive evaluation and examination of your child’s feet.

Dr. Larry Huppin
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