Hip, knee, and ankle joint forces in healthy weight, overweight, and obese individuals during walking


Worldwide in 2008, more than 1.4 billion adults, age 20 and older, were overweight. Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. The World Health Organization defines overweight as having a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25 kg/m2 and obese as a BMI greater than or equal to 30 kg/m2. The aim of this study was to compare peak hip, knee, and ankle joint compressive loads during gait at self-selected speed between overweight and healthy weight individuals and to examine the functional relationship between body mass and peak joint forces. Twelve subjects, six high BMI subjects and six normal BMI control subjects, participated in this investigation. Absolute peak hip, knee, and ankle joint forces were 40 %, 43 %, and 48 % greater, respectively, for the high-BMI versus normal group. Joint loads were found to increase approximately linearly with body mass. Body mass accounted for 70-80 % of the variation in the peak compressive load at the hip, knee, and ankle during gait. These findings support the link that increased body mass leads to increased biomechanical loading of the joints and could be a factor linking obesity to osteoarthritis.

Publication Title

Computational Biomechanics for Medicine: Fundamental Science and Patient-Specific Applications