A study presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) aimed to determine which obesity measure is the best predictor of lower-extremity injury risk. Nathaniel S. Nye, MD, a Maryland-based sports medicine fellow, performed a retrospective review of electronic medical records of 79,868 US Air Force personnel, stratified by body mass index (BMI) and abdominal circumference (AC), according to an AMSSM news release. Nye then analyzed data over a 7-year period to identify the incidence of new lower-extremity overuse injury.

These lower-extremity injury risks included stress fractures, joint injuries, and osteoarthritis (OA). The AMSSM news release notes that Cox proportional hazards regression was used to calculate injury risk in obese and high-risk AC individuals. The calculations showed a significant risk association between elevated BMI and AC related to all injury types. Essentially, those who were classified as obese were at a greater risk for developing lower-extremity injuries. In addition, using BMI and AC in a combined approach predicted injury risk better than either measure alone.

The AMSSM news release notes that obesity and musculoskeletal injuries are significant health problems in America, including the military. The ultimate goal of the research is to be able to prevent injuries by better understanding how obesity affects injury risk. Nye says, “Thanks to organized, electronic documentation, we currently have a wealth of military health and fitness data at our fingertips.”

Nye adds, “We plan to use this data to learn more about other injury types such as back injuries, as well as whether sit-up and push-up counts (measures of core strength) relate to injury risk. Ultimately, it may be possible to quantify each individual’s risk for injury and prioritize preventive measures for each airman, soldier, sailor, or athlete.”

[Source: AMSSM]