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July 26, 2023

Pediatric Obesity Research Update | Neuromusculoskeletal Health in Pediatric Obesity: Incorporating Evidence into Clinical Examination.

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Each month, the OMA Pediatric Committee reviews a pediatric-focused obesity research update to help keep you up to date about the latest findings. This month’s update addresses Neuromusculoskeletal health in pediatric obesity.

Neuromusculoskeletal Health in Pediatric Obesity: Incorporating Evidence into Clinical Examination.

Article Summary

This article explores the evidence available regarding the effects of obesity on the Neuromusculoskeletal health of pediatric patients. It recommends that screening for these disorders and dysfunctions be done routinely and that personalized interventions be used to optimize obesity treatment. Read the full article.

Article Review

The article presents compelling evidence that childhood obesity may be associated with reduced physical functioning or disability as defined by the WHO International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). It presents evidence from numerous systematic reviews that found a ‘substantial impact’ of childhood obesity on physical health that was most apparent as ICF impairments in body structure and function (e.g., neuromuscular impairment ). Evidence was also presented that showed the association between adiposity and musculoskeletal pain and injury in children and, conversely, the inverse relationship with cardiorespiratory fitness, balance/coordination, general motor skills, and functional mobility. Carrying excess mass was also found to potentially have a significant negative impact on the overall quality of life of a child. The authors state that these considerations are often overlooked in the clinical assessment of children, resulting in errors in designing a personalized intervention plan as well as limiting adherence to a prescribed intervention. The authors present the findings of several reviews which describe in detail the neuromuscular impairments and complications of childhood obesity e.g. Increased pain, reduced lower limb muscle strength, and impaired coordination, as well as the quality of life of a child. Considering the seriousness of these complications and their potential effects on the life of a child with obesity, the authors state that it is essential that health professionals understand and accept their role in screening, assessing, and addressing these complications. They provide useful advice on how these activities should be conducted in a manner that is respectful and non-stigmatizing. They provide examples of screening tools that are short, easy to use, and can be included in a standard wellness encounter, as well as advice on how best to use the knowledge gained by screening and assessment to design personalized interventions.

In summary, the article recognizes the serious problem of neuromuscular impairment in children with obesity and provides evidence-based advice on how to address these issues.

Additional Resources

Find more resources curated by OMA’s Pediatric Committee on our Pediatric Resources page. There you’ll find additional article reviews on various topics related to obesity as well as public resources for clinicians and families.

O’Malley, G.C., Shultz, S.P., Thivel, D. et al. Neuromusculoskeletal Health in Pediatric Obesity: Incorporating Evidence into Clinical Examination. Curr Obes Rep 10, 467–477 (2021).