April 21, 2024

Girls aged four to 11 who are overweight or obese are more likely to see a GP at least once about musculoskeletal problems than their healthy weight peers, research suggests.

Reception year pupils who had a body mass index considered overweight were 24% more likely to see a doctor at least once for a musculoskeletal problem, while their peers living with obesity were 67% more likely tended to do so than girls with a healthy weight, the study found.

And year 6 girls with obesity were 20% more likely to see a GP for musculoskeletal problems, while boys with a BMI considered underweight were 61% less likely to do so than children of a healthy weight .

Knee and back symptoms or diagnoses were the most commonly recorded, according to the findings, which focused on one area of ​​London and are published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood journal.

Nicola Firman, a health data scientist at Queen Mary University of London and lead author of the study, said: “There have been only a few longitudinal studies that have examined the relationship between obesity and musculoskeletal health outcomes occurring during childhood. .

“We previously did a systematic review, which reported that there was little evidence and it was generally of fair or moderate quality.

“We examine the musculoskeletal health outcomes of children living with obesity during primary school in an ethnically diverse population in the United Kingdom, with high levels of childhood obesity and deprivation.”

Among reception-year children with at least one musculoskeletal consultation, 46% of boys and 41.5% of girls reported knee pain. Among year 6 children, the corresponding proportions were 40.4% and 36%.

Among reception year children, 22% of boys and 32% of girls reported back pain, compared with 30% of year 6 boys and 45% of year 6 girls.

Reception year girls with obesity were more likely to see their doctor about a musculoskeletal problem than their healthy weight counterparts, but there was no difference between the boys.

Firman added: “There has been research in Spain and the US that has reported an increased prevalence of back pain in girls but not in boys. But overall there is not much longitudinal evidence examining the link between obesity [and] musculoskeletal health in childhood.”

The sample included primary school children from four ethnically diverse local authorities in North East London.

In response to the findings, Katharine Jenner, the director of the Obesity Health Alliance, said: “Kids of primary school age should be running around the playground and not sitting in a doctor’s waiting room in pain.

“The government has an obesity strategy that could change the trajectory for those children, but so far it has failed to deliver on most of it, and the target of halving childhood obesity by 2030 looks increasingly unachievable.”

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