Faculty Member

Obesity has been associated with negative effects on postural control, including falls. Previous studies revealed different outcomes regarding the effects of obesity on gait features, and the use of BMI may lead to bias in assessing the true effects of obesity on gait. To better understand the effects of obesity on gait, it is important to examine gait features and associated body composition measures. The purpose of this study was: (1) to assess gait features of normal weight, overweight and obese adults, and (2) to assess the relationship between body composition measures and gait features. Thirty participants were assigned to one of three groups based upon their BMI at the onset of the study: healthy weight (BMI: 18.5-24.9kg/m2), overweight (BMI: 25-29.9kg/m2), or obese (BMI: 30-40kg/m2). Participants performed straight-line over-ground walking through a 200m hallway at their natural preferred speed while wearing their own shoes. The angular displacements, range of motion (ROM), and approximate entropy of kinematic data of the bilateral hips, knees, and ankles in the sagittal plane were computed. Walking speed, step length, stride length, single leg support phase, double leg support phase, swing phase and bilateral stance phase times were extracted from the GaitRite data. Overall, body mass and BMI were associated with peak flexion and ROM in the knees as well as single support, double support, stance, and swing phases. Body fat percentage did not exhibit correlations with measured gait features. Gait variables were more highly correlated with BMI and body mass instead of percent body fat, suggesting that absolute mass is more influential on gait features rather than amount of fat tissue.