Wednesday 7 March 2012

Doctor Doctor: Do As I Say Not As I Do

Local reporter Kenneth Foo's powers of observation enabled him to write:
Samartzis, being obese himself, said: "There is no better gift to give yourself than the gift of good health, so we hope our findings can add fuel to the fire for people to be more conscious of their weight."

Assistant Professor Dino Samartzis advises the public to be more aware of their weight

Apparently, Adrian Wan of SCMP did not notice (or chose to ignore) the fact that Samartzis is obese.


Study links obesity to lower back pain (The Standard)
Kenneth Foo
Monday, February 27, 2012

Overweight and obese adults are significantly more likely to suffer from back pain compared to those of normal weight, a study by the University of Hong Kong has shown.

Researchers studied nearly 2,600 people and found 73 percent have lumbar spine degeneration, a leading cause of lower back pain.

More significantly, those with a high body mass index are much more likely to get the disease and suffer from more advanced degeneration.

The condition was found to be more common in men than women and more prevalent among the elderly.

"Obesity results in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, but what is bad for the heart is also bad for the back," said assistant professor Dino Samartzis of the university's Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine.

"We found that by taking preventive steps obese people can avoid the disease," he said.

The study's findings have been published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism.

The development of the disease typically leads to a lifetime of low back pain episodes, which can diminish the quality of life, decrease productivity, increase health-care costs, and even lead to psychological distress.

Magnetic resonance imaging was used to assess the adults, and it was that found 73 percent had degenerative discs while the rest did not.

It is common belief that disc degeneration occurs with aging. As a person ages, their spinal discs begin to wear down, leading to a tearing of the outer layers of the discs.

But researchers found that packing on the kilograms may also lead to this disease, and the greater the BMI figure, the more serious was the disc degeneration.

The research found that overweight people with a high BMI are 30 percent more likely to suffer from disc degeneration.

On the other hand, those who are obese have double the risk of being afflicted by the disease.

Being overweight or obese is like carrying a heavy haversack, which contributes to the process, because the discs are loaded with extra weight, clinical professor Kenneth Cheung Man-chee said.

A patient named Sean, 33, who weighs 108 kilograms, said he has to apply for sick leave 10 days a year because of his degenerative disc disease brought on by being overweight.

He has stopped playing basketball because of his lower back pain.

Robin Mellecker of the university's Institute of Human Performance said even a fairly small decrease in weight can give rise to significant health benefits.

Samartzis, being obese himself, said: "There is no better gift to give yourself than the gift of good health, so we hope our findings can add fuel to the fire for people to be more conscious of their weight."

Obesity can be a pain in the back, says study (SCMP; paywall)
Research shows that being overweight can double the risk of disc degeneration in later life
Adrian Wan
Feb 27, 2012

Obesity doubles the risk of disc degeneration in adulthood and could lead to a serious need for back surgery, a University of Hong Kong study has revealed.

The research found that more than two-thirds of adults aged at least 21 had disc degeneration, which can cause severe chronic pain. Some 36 per cent of them were overweight, 9 per cent were obese and about half were of normal weight.

Researchers at HKU's Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine studied the magnetic resonance imaging scans of a cross-section of about 2,600 people.

"Those who are overweight will have an increased likelihood of severe pain and the need for lower back surgery in late life," said Professor Kenneth Cheung Man-chee, of the university's orthopaedics and traumatology department, who carried out the study with Dr Dino Samartzis.

Disc degeneration disease was irreversible and could cause long-term suffering, Cheung said. This could include serious lower back pain, which might prevent patients from leading a normal work and social life.

The findings are based on data from the Hong Kong Degenerative Disc Disease Cohort, the largest study of its kind in the world.

Launched in 2001, it addresses disc degeneration and lower back pain by tracking the health of more than 3,500 southern Chinese volunteers aged 10 to 80.

The HKU study also found that the more overweight an adult was, the more serious the backache would be, compared with adults who were in the normal weight range. People who were obese had a 79 per cent increased risk of disc degeneration, while those who were overweight had a 30 per cent risk.

It has long been known that ageing, genetics and biomechanics - the structure and function of biological systems - are contributory causes of disc degeneration.

The findings were published in the latest issue of the medial journal Arthritis and Rheumatism. They are in line with a previous study by the same team that found a third of teenagers suffered from backache, and the condition was three times more likely if they were overweight.

The number of people overweight or obese in Hong Kong is rising. Department of Health data shows that in 2010, 39 per cent of adults aged 18 to 64 were overweight or obese.

Degeneration of the intervertebral discs - the joints of the spine - was on the increase in Hong Kong and the mainland, said Dr Robin Mellecker, a fellow at HKU's Institute of Human Performance.

"This is because populations are eating and sitting more," she said.

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