Previous studies investigating the effect of excessive weight on the foot have commonly been cross-sectional; therefore, it is still unclear how the foot function gradually changes with the increased body mass that is physiologically gained over time. This study aimed to use a load transfer method to identify the mechanism of how the foot function changed with the increased excessive body mass over two years. Taking normal weight as the baseline, fifteen children became overweight or obese (group 1), and fifteen counterparts maintained normal weight (group 0) over the two years. Barefoot walking was assessed using a Footscan® plate system. A load transfer method was used based upon the relative force-time integral (FTI) to provide an insight into plantar load transference as children increased in weight. Significantly increased FTIs were found at the big toe (BT), medial metatarsal (MM), lateral metatarsal (LM), and lateral heel (HL) in group 1, while at BT, MM, medial heel (HM), and HL in group 0. Foot load showed a posterior to anterior transferal from midfoot (2.5%) and heel (7.0%) to metatarsal and big toe in group 1. The control group, however, shifted the loading within the metatarsal level from LM to HM (4.1%), and equally relieved weight from around the midfoot (MF) (3.0%) to BT, MM, HM and HL. Earlier weight loss intervention is required to prevent further adverse effects on foot functions caused by excessive weight-bearing.
Keywords: follow-up study; foot function; load transfer; obese children; overweight children.