Health Care Professionals

Obesity: Consequences for Foot Health


Implications for People Who Are Overweight or Obese

A physician’s recommendation for losing weight through improved diet and exercise regimens is appropriate for anyone with foot pain or other lower extremity conditions related to overweight.  In fact, the presence of foot pain and other complicating issues may provide increased motivation for patients to lose weight.  In addition, the following suggestions can help address pain and discomfort, and possibly reduce foot-related barriers to the regular participation in exercise and activities that is so vital to addressing obesity:

  • Because being overweight is often an accompanying factor in diabetes, it is important to check blood sugar levels regularly, and ensure that patients with diabetes or pre-diabetes have proper foot care.  Click here for specific foot care concerns related to diabetes.
  • To help protect the feet and reduce barriers to regular exercise and activity, IPFH recommends wearing padded socks, properly selected and fitted, as part of an integrated approach, with shoes with non-slip outsoles and any inserts or orthotics prescribed or recommended by a doctor or foot health professional.
  • Overweight patients should be informed that they may be more at risk of foot conditions than those with lower BMIs and should take measures to avoid injury to the skin/soft tissue of the feet.  Click here for information on how to help prevent skin/soft tissue injuries to the feet.
  • Because of their increased vulnerability to foot and lower extremity conditions, IPFH suggests that people who are overweight or obese be encouraged to get regular foot examinations either from their primary care physician or from a foot health professional
  • Because footwear tends to wear out and lose its protective characteristics, and because the normal service life of a shoe is at least partially related to the weight of the wearer, IPFH suggests that people who are overweight or obese be encouraged to purchase new footwear (especially athletic footwear) more frequently than normal weight people.  Many experts advise replacing running shoes after about 300 to 500 miles of running.  For an average “casual” runner this means about every four to five months. This is a good rule of thumb for all athletic shoes to ensure maximum protection and utility. Although many factors influence the life of a shoe, and some people will not require replacement as frequently, IPFH advises being conservative and replacing shoes if there is any doubt about their remaining protective capability.

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