Science-- there's something for everyone

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Obesity linked to pain levels

If you needed one more reason to avoid becoming obese, here’s a good one.  Obese people suffer significantly more day-to-day pain than their thinner cohorts.  Arthur Stone and Joan Broderick of Stony Brook University conducted a telephone survey of over a million Americans to come to this somewhat unsurprising result.

Participants, who were randomly selected by the Gallup Organization, were asked about their height and weight, general health, and levels of pain, both over the past year and yesterday.  The researchers calculated body mass index (BMI) from the answers.  Even accounting for medical conditions known to cause pain, the obese group suffered from significantly more daily pain than the normal weight group.  In fact, the more obese a person was, the more likely he was to suffer from daily pain. I should add that the additional pain was not necessarily the kind of skeletomuscular pain you'd expect to see with carrying excess weight.  

Obviously, there’s a huge caveat here.  Because the weights were self reported over the phone, the researchers had no way of assessing how accurate those numbers were.  However, I don’t think that should change the outcome.  If anything, most people tend to underestimate their weight, which would have resulted in more people in the normal group reporting pain.