The purpose of this study was to determine whether obesity is associated with less postural stability in young adults, and whether it is influenced by anterior pelvic tilt angle and sensory dysfunction.
Twenty-four healthy young volunteers were allocated to two groups – normal group and overweight group – according to the World Health Organization classification.
A palpation meter was used to measure anterior pelvic tilt angle.
During postural stability tests, the participants were asked to stand barefoot and adopt a comfortable stance on the platform.
With arms alongside the body, the mean Centre of Gravity (COG) sway velocity and total sway distance were measured under foot conditions – with or without a layer of foam rubber on the supporting base, and/or with eyes open or close.
This study found that young overweight or obese individuals swayed faster and had greater sway displacement than normal-weight individuals in the eyes-closed condition on firm or foam floors.
These results suggest that obese individuals have less ability to maintain postural stability when compared with individuals with normal weight.
Pelvic anterior tilt was found to be significantly higher in the obese group.
The degree of pelvic tilt is associated with lumbar posture, because the lumbar spine is connected to the pelvis and an increased anterior pelvic tilt can lead to excessive lumbar extension.
The increased anterior pelvic tilt in obese individuals might be caused by an alteration of body geometry due to increased abdominal fat.
Another possible explanation of the relationship between postural stability and increased body weight related to the contribution made by foot mechanoreceptors to balance control.
Visual inputs are used to compensate for postural instability caused by impaired plantar sensitivity in obese young adults; this explains why greater postural instability was demonstrated in the eyes-closed condition.
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