Fat Hurts

Men's Health |

Obesity linked to greater likelihood of having daily pain

A Gallup Organization survey of 1,062,271 people living in the U.S. found that obesity was associated with a greater risk of experiencing daily pain. During the survey, researchers collected information on height, weight, conditions that cause chronic pain, pain experiences in the past year, and pain experiences in the day preceding the survey. Overall, 19.2% of the participants had a low to normal BMI, 21.4% were overweight, and the rest were obese. Compared to people with low to normal BMI, overweight people were 20% more likely to report that they felt pain the day before the survey, people in obesity class I were 68% more likely, people in obesity class II were 136% more likely, while people in obesity class III were 254% more likely to do so. After controlling for chronically painful conditions, researchers found that the association between BMI and pain was much weaker but still significant for obesity: a 26%, 56%, and a 97% greater likelihood of reporting recent pain among, respectively, people in obesity categories I, II, and III. The association between pain and obesity was similar among males and females but did get stronger among older people. A biological link between obesity and pain is plausible. Hormones associated with fat can lead to inflammation and pain. Depression could play a role in the pain/obesity relationship. There could be a feedback between pain and obesity, such that as pain increases so does inactivity and the risk for obesity.

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