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Functional limitations linked to high body mass index, age and current pain in obese women


OBJECTIVE: To describe functional limitations in obese women.

DESIGN: Comparisons of functional limitations in obese women and in a normal-weight reference group regarding mobility, balance and housework transport.

SETTING: A large room with a corridor and staircase nearby.

SUBJECTS: Fifty-seven consecutively selected obese female outpatients, mean age 44 y, body mass index (BMI) 37 kg·m−2, and 22 voluntary references, mean age 49 y, BMI 22 kg·m−2.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Pain questionnaire (for background data); a new valid and reliable test protocol measuring activities of daily life (ADL), pain and exertion, heart rate, balance and speed.

RESULTS: The patients had problems in performing 13 of 16 actions compared with the references (P-values between 0.05 and 0.001). They moved more slowly and had difficulties and /or pain and exertion in flexibility tasks, balancing, activities at floor level (bending and kneeling), climbing stairs and carrying groceries. BMI (P=0.002), age (P=0.02) and current pain (P=0.02) from the lower body predicted functional limitation.

CONCLUSIONS: The functional test reflected functional limitations in obese women, revealing difficulties and perceived pain in ADL. The test protocol can be used to evaluate the effects of training or dieting. For clinical use we recommend considering BMI, age and current pain for use when individualizing advice on training.

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This study was supported by the Department of Physical Therapy and the Committee for the Health and Caring Sciences at the Karolinska Institutet, and carried out at the Departments of Physical Therapy and Medicine at the Karolinska Institutet.

We thank the patients and reference group who volunteered to participate in this study. We also thank Professor Stephan Rössner and his staff for generously providing patients and valuable points of view. Physiotherapists Pia Walander, Robin Kihlbaum and Mattias Röjås helped to perform the reliability tests in an excellent way. We are most grateful for expert help from Jan Kowalski, statistician and Tim Crosfield regarding the English language.

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Correspondence to U Evers Larsson.

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Larsson, U., Mattsson, E. Functional limitations linked to high body mass index, age and current pain in obese women. Int J Obes 25, 893–899 (2001).

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  • ADL
  • evaluation
  • functional limitations
  • obese women
  • pain
  • test protocol

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