Obesity is one of the leading health-related problems facing the developed world. In fact, more than 1/3 (34.9% or 78.6 million) of adults in the United States (US) are obese. Obesity is linked to heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and many preventable conditions that can lead to a premature death. The estimated costs associated with obesity in the US topped $147 billion dollars in 2008 alone. Obesity is more common among middle age adults 40-59 years old (39.5%) than younger adults age 20-39 (30.3%) or adults over 60 (35.4%).
When patients present for chiropractic care, their doctor of chiropractic will be interested in their total health needs even though their low back pain (or some other complaint) may have been the driving force behind making the appointment. During the initial visit, he or she will take a thorough history as well as a review of systems to determine ALL of the patient’s issues. The chiropractor may also check the patient’s vital signs (age, blood pressure, pulse, respiration, height, weight, and recently the “new vital sign,” the BMI or Body Mass Index). In a recent study comparing groups of people with normal vs. high BMIs, the average lower lumbar angle in the overweight group was significantly greater than that in the normal weight group, and ONLY the lower lumbar angle was associated with a significant increase in the BMI (waist circumference showed no association with the lower lumbar angle). Another study looked at the degree of pain and function between non-obese, those with mild-obesity, and those with greater obesity and found that those with greater obesity had higher ratings of pain while walking and stair climbing, had greater weakness in the back extensors and abdominal muscles, and took the fewest number of steps per day. Another study found an association in young women (18-30 years) between higher BMI and waist circumference and greater cardiometabolic risk, greater insulin resistance (diabetes risk), and lower physical activity.
Knowing all the risks associated with obesity, it’s fair to say, most patients want to lose weight. Many have tried a lot of different approaches and yet continue to struggle with the seemingly never-ending “battle of the bulge.” So, how can chiropractic help? Because chiropractors are interested in your whole-person health, they cannot ignore the risk factors that cause and/or perpetuate other health problems that drive patients to their offices – such as low back pain. They can manage pain with the usual approaches (manipulation, mobilization, massage, trigger point, and other soft tissue therapies and modalities) but can also discuss dietary changes and ways to improve your general health. Studies show that an anti-inflammatory diet will address many of the issues facing the overweight person, including low back pain. Hence, they may promote eating more fruits, vegetables, and lean meat/protein, avoiding gluten, and fortifying the diet with a broad spectrum multivitamin-mineral, magnesium (with or without calcium), fish-oil, vitamin D3, and co-enzyme Q10. Your doctor will assess you as an individual, work with other allied healthcare practitioners, and help guide you in diet and exercise in the quest of establishing NEW health habits to obtain and maintain your ideal weight.