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The prevalence of low back pain and associations with body fatness, fat distribution and height

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: To examine the associations of low back pain symptoms with waist circumference, height, waist to hip ratio and body mass index, and to test the interactions between (1) waist circumference and height, and (2) waist to hip ratio and body mass index. SETTING: Cross-sectional study set in The Netherlands of a random sample of 5887 men and 7018 women aged 20–60 y. RESULTS: The prevalences of low back pain in men and women in the past 12 months were 46% and 52%, of whom 17% and 21% had low back pain for a total of 12 or more weeks, and 13% and 18% had symptoms suggestive of intervertebral disc herniation. After adjustments for age, smoking and education, more women in the highest tertile of waist circumference reported low back pain in the past 12 months (odds ratio=1.2, 95% confidence interval: 1.1–1.4), low back pain for a total of 12 or more weeks (odds ratio=1.5, 95% confidence interval: 1.3–1.8), and intervertebral disc herniation symptoms (odds ratio=1.3, 95% confidence interval: 1.1–1.6) than women in the lowest waist tertile. Corresponding values of low back pain symptoms for women with high body mass index or high waist to hip ratio were similar to those with high waist. There were no significant differences between men in different tertiles of waist, waist to hip ratio or body mass index reporting low back pain symptoms. Tallest subjects did not report low back pain symptoms more often than shortest subjects. There were no significant interactions between waist and height or between waist to hip ratio and body mass index on low back pain symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: Women who are overweight or with a large waist have a significantly increased likelihood of low back pain. There are no significant interactions between waist and height, or waist to hip ratio and body mass index on low back pain symptoms.

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Han, T., Schouten, J., Lean, M. et al. The prevalence of low back pain and associations with body fatness, fat distribution and height. Int J Obes 21, 600–607 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0800448

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0800448

Keywords

  • body mass index
  • fat distribution
  • low back pain
  • obesity
  • stature
  • weight

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