Aside from the myriad of internal problems caused by being overweight, there are much worse problems that excess weight can do to the joints of your body. It’s no secret that we are living longer. Due to advances in medical technology, the average American is living to just a shade under 80 years. Unfortunately, the quality of the last few years of life seems to be inadequate given the increased training of healthcare professionals today.

Think about your knees, which happen to be one of the most injured joint in the overweight patient. Yours knees absorb one and a half times your bodyweight on a flat surface. This force doubles when you are going up or down stairs and is up to five times your bodyweight when you squat. Looking at someone who is 200 lbs, they are putting up to 1000 lbs of force through their knees just by performing an activity of daily living that happens countless number of times each day!

If you think your back is safe, think again. That extra weight in your midsection is putting more stress through the already-vulnerable lumbar spine. By forcing the lumbar extensor muscles to work overtime, they will inevitably give up causing postural changes which will increase the normal lordotic curve in your back. With this increased lordosis you are putting yourself at risk for lumbar disc injuries on top of muscle strains whenever you use your back.

What about long term? The dreaded diagnosis of arthritis is something we all may have to deal with at some point in life. However, an obese person is 60% more likely to develop arthritis when compared to someone of average weight. In addition, the newer prosthetics used in joint replacement surgeries can give people a new lease on life, but when performed on an obese patient the success rates drop considerably.

The take home message, as I officially have been out of high school for 20 years, is that barring any out of the ordinary growth spurt you had after high school, there is no reason you should be more than 10 pounds than you were on graduation day. With regular workouts, and more importantly a healthy diet, you don’t have to look for the next fitness fad to get you into shape, because you will already be there.

Yours in health,

Keith Pacific