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Little Known Risks of a High Body Mass Index (Heavy Weight)

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As we have previously mentioned in Little Known Risks of a Low Body Mass Index (Low Weight), BMI refers to your Body Mass Index in which your weight and height is used to calculate whether you are under or overweight in relation to your height.  Even though BMI is one of the most commonly used weight and height calculations used in healthcare, it isn’t the most accurate. Those with very high muscle mass may still show as overweight in relation to their height, and this is one of the biggest flaws of the BMI scale. For a more accurate reading, The Water-Displacement Measurement is often used as an alternative.  This is where you are submerged in a large tank of water. The amount of displaced water is measured and from this, your total body fat can be estimated.  However, this method is not widely available and requires a laboratory setting with a skilled technician, which is why the BMI scale is widely used.

One of the largest strains on health services is the increasing frequency and severity of operations and treatments, which are required due to overweight individuals (usually those with a high BMI reading).  There are many physical issues that arise from an individual being obese, which are not just limited to the heart and other internal organs.

When asked to consider what operations people may have if they are overweight, the majority of people may suggest gastric band or bypass operations. Not many people would associate operations such as total knee or total hip replacements with those who are obese, but there is a very strong correlation between the two. Increased load from excess body weight on limbs alters joint mechanics, making them more susceptible to osteoarthritic changes and general ‘wear-and-tear’.

With a high BMI, the complications following surgery such as insufficient wound healing, infection and a poor surgical outcome are also more commonly displayed.  Those with a high BMI are also more susceptible to experiencing increased pain following surgery.  This is due to increased forces being put through the new joint prosthesis, which puts more strain on the metal implant and the surrounding bone.

It is not only the bones and joints themselves that are susceptible to damage from excess body weight; it is also the soft tissues, which undergo extreme forces. For example, ligaments in the ankle are more likely to rupture from the additional strain that the body weight puts on them during a fall or stumble.  When these structures are repaired, the outcome isn’t as good for overweight individuals as the same force is being sustained through the structures.

Your physiotherapist can help you with a personal training program in order to facilitate weight loss, as well as allow you to achieve a more manageable weight and a lower BMI reading. It has been shown through studies that with every 5kg loss from an overweight individual, they can reduce their chance of requiring knee surgery for osteoarthritic means by up to 20%.

Have you had any personal training input from the staff at Physiocomestoyou? Let us know your experiences in the comments section below!

Post by Zoe Birch, Head of Orthopaedic Physiotherapy at Physiocomestoyou.