The Effects Of Obesity Upon The Back

What is Obesity?

Effects of obesity on your back

Obesity and back pain correlation

Obesity is a contributing factor to coronary heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. Obesity weakens muscle, restrains movement and makes simple tasks such as walking up a flight of stairs aggravating and exhausting.

A person is considered obese if they have an excessive amount of fat tissue. The metric measurement used to identify body mass index (BMI) says anyone with a BMI greater than 30 is obese. The BMI is calculated using a height to weight ratio. An individual at 6’4” and one at 5’2” could easily have the same BMI, but the shorter person could be considered obese.

The Causes of Back Pain in Obese People

Excess weight places pressure on the muscles as the fat tissue restricts movement. It’s literally carrying disproportionate poundage everywhere you go. The most common problem associated with this is back pain. A recent survey revealed that almost 90% of spinal care experts consider obesity a major factor contributing towards back pain. The subject is applying too much pressure to the spine.

Back pain is an ailment that occurs anywhere from the shoulders and neck to the lower back. Simple activities such as getting out of bed, or moving from the couch, can exacerbate the pain. When the spine is forced to incorporate added fat tissue it leads to structural compromise and potential damage like sciatica.  While back pain may not be the direct result of obesity, it does magnify the pain significantly.

Back Conditions Linked to Obesity

The most common results of obesity and back pain include:

  • Spondylolisthesis – a slippage in the wear and tear of the lower back. Disc rupture (or herniation) – when the spinal disc (which cushions each vertebrae of the spine) is either torn or pushed out of position.
  • Degenerative disc disease, which is damage caused directly to the disc and usually associated with aging.
  • Spinal Stenosis – is the narrowing of the spine placing excess pressure upon the spinal chord.
  • Fractures in the vertebrae

Diet & Exercise

Nothing is more effective in the battle against back pain. Obesity is a threat to the entire body. Reducing one’s weight by as little as 10% makes a tremendous difference.

Losing weight lowers blood pressure, places less stress upon the heart and alleviates the difficulty of manoeuvring your own body.

Make sure to consult with a physician, as they are able to refer you to a dietitian. The diet specialists are able to provide correct nutritional information, which can help you to successfully lose weight. Not all diets work for every individual, which is why so many of us tend to give up. Persevere and take your health seriously.

Exercise combined with eating correctly is the best way to lose weight and stay healthy. When it comes to back pain and obesity, one isn’t just losing weight and putting less pressure on the spine, you’re also strengthening muscle. Inactivity is the most likely cause of obesity.

Consult a Doctor!

A doctor should definitely be consulted if you feel you are suffering from obesity. Stress is a major killer, especially with an increased risk of hernias and other threats to the spine. A 30-minute walk a day would be a good start, or the same period of time using a treadmill. Try to maintain good posture as you carry yourself – that’s shoulders back and back straight. At the very least, regularly stretch the back and abs. Strengthening that core will help deal with the pain.

Weight Lifting

Weight lifting should be approached with great caution. Remember, weight lifting builds muscle, but doesn’t necessarily advance weight loss. It has to be done in unison with eating the correct, nutritional foods and taking better care of your body, with good exercise routines.

Gastric Bypass Surgery

This procedure is considered the best for treating morbid obesity. Essentially, the size of the stomach is reduced via surgery, leaving a smaller opening between the intestine and stomach.

Weight loss is achieved because, as a result of the reduced pouch, a person feels fuller for longer coupled with eating less. As there is a delay in the stomach emptying, the patient is satisfied for a longer period of time.


Back pain is not limited to the obese. The American Obesity Association estimated almost 65% of Americans could be categorized as obese or overweight. That’s almost 130 million people. And this is across the board for men, women and children. Yet only 31 million Americans are experiencing any kind of back pain at any given time and not all of them suffer from obesity.

Either way, if you’re experiencing persistent back pain, consult with a physician and see what alternatives are available to ease that pain.


Author’s bio:

Hello! My name is Micheala and I am a freelance writer. I currently specialise in writing articles regarding general health matters. A particular focus of mine at the moment is the treatment of conditions affecting the back, which are related to problems of obesity.

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