Gender-specific effect of obesity on balance

Francesco Menegoni, Manuela Galli, Elena Tacchini, Luca Vismara, Marco Cavigioli, Paolo Capodaglio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Obesity modifies the body geometry by adding mass to different regions and it influences the biomechanics of activities of daily living. Weight influences postural stability, but there is no consensus as to whether the different fat distribution in males and females produces gender-related effects on balance. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of body weight increases on postural performance in males and females. A total of 22 obese females (BMI: 41.1 4.1 kg/m 2) and 22 obese males (BMI: 40.2 5 kg/m 2) were analyzed during a static posture trial on a force platform in standardized conditions. Twenty healthy subjects (10 females, 10 males) constituted the control group. We computed the following parameters related to the center of pressure (CoP): velocity and displacements along the antero-posterior (AP) and medio-lateral axis (ML). We found several statistically significant differences between healthy and obese men, in particular regarding the AP and ML CoP parameters, which were correlated to body weight (r = 0.36-0.58). The comparison between healthy and obese females pointed out statistically significant differences in AP parameters and no significant differences in ML displacements. Body weight was found to correlate with AP parameters (r = 0.36-0.74), but not with ML displacements. The increased body mass seems to produce AP instability in both genders and ML destabilization only in males. Rehabilitation programs should take these findings into account by adopting specific interventions to improve ML control in obese males, and through weight loss and strengthening of ankle flexors/extensors in both genders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1951-1956
Number of pages6
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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