Obesity and low back pain

Coll Antropol. 2003 Jun;27(1):95-104.


Obesity and low back pain (LBP) are common health problems among patients attending Primary Health Care (PHC) in general practice at the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The objective of this study was to determine whether obesity is associated with low back pain. A cross-sectional face-to-face interview questionnaire survey was conducted. The questionnaire was a modified version of the Roland-Morris Scale for evaluating back disability. The interviews were conducted in Arabic by qualified nurses. A multi-stage stratified sample 1,103 UAE national aged 25-65 years, who attended PHC clinics for any reason, were invited to participate but only 802 subjects were eligible to be included for the statistical analysis. The data were analyzed using univariate and multivariate statistical methods. Of the 802 subjects, 428 (53.4%) were males and 374 (46.6%) were females. The mean age of the males was 40.5 +/- 11.5 years and females was 38.2 +/- 10.5 years (p = 0.004). The mean BMI of the males was 26.4 +/- 7.4 and females was 27.8 +/- 5.6 (p = 0.002). The overall prevalence of LBP in the present study was 64.9% (95% confidence interval, 61.0-68.8) and respectively, 56.1% in males and 73.8% in females. The results revealed that there was association between BMI and some socio-demographic variables with the respect of with low back pain. Back pain had more influence on the life style habits on females than in males. Stepwise multiple regression analysis showed that only age (p < 0.0001), educational level (p = 0.001), gender (p = 0.002), place of living (p = 0.019), BMI (p < 0.0001), and housing condition (p = 0.02) had significant effect on the presence of LBP in patients. The present study showed that obesity is moderately associated with low back pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology
  • Low Back Pain / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors