(1) University of Malta, Msida, Malta
(2) Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom
(3) Department of Health, Floriana, Malta
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The aim of the study was to determine differences in dynamic plantar pressure and contact area in a cohort of overweight and non-overweight children. This study also sought to determine whether total foot contact area correlated with average peak plantar pressure measurements.
Materials and methods
A non-experimental matched subject designed was conducted on 20 participants. A plantar pressure mapping system was used to acquire plantar pressures. Assessment included dynamic plantar pressure and contact area of 10 overweight (age 9.6 ± 1.4 years; BMI 26 ± 6) and 10 non-overweight (age 9.6 ± 1.6 years; BMI 16 ± 2) children with a neutral foot type determined by Foot Posture Index. Subjects were matched for age, height and gender.
The study identified a significantly larger foot contact area (p 0.000) and higher peak plantar pressures under the heel (p 0.011), the 2nd– 4th Metatarsophalangeal Joint region (MPJs) (p 0.000) and 1st MPJ (p 0.050) in overweight children when compared to their matched non-overweight participants. A strong positive relationship was reported between peak plantar pressure and foot contact area.
This study has identified significantly higher plantar pressure differences and a larger contact area in overweight children when compared to controls. This increased pressure may be indicative of altered foot function which may later in life lead to musculoskeletal complications and pain. This highlights the importance of increased vigilance coupled with strengthening of existing screening structures with regards to biomechanical assessment of the feet in early childhood in order to reduce the incidence of musculoskeletal abnormalities and pain.