Neuromusculoskeletal Health in Pediatric Obesity: Incorporating Evidence into Clinical Examination

Curr Obes Rep. 2021 Dec;10(4):467-477. doi: 10.1007/s13679-021-00463-9. Epub 2021 Dec 27.


Purpose of review: The study aims to highlight the clinical importance of assessing and managing neuromusculoskeletal health in pediatric obesity and to support translation of evidence into practice.

Recent findings: A growing evidence base suggests that children with obesity experience neuromusculoskeletal impairments and physical complications including increased pain, reduced muscle strength, impaired balance and motor skill, gait deviations, postural malalignment, greater fatigue, and potentially reduced flexibility and sub-optimal bone health. Such evidence supports the need to screen, assess, and optimize neuromusculoskeletal health as part of pediatric obesity management. The likelihood of children with obesity experiencing neuromusculoskeletal impairments is high and can impact the way a child moves, and their interest or capacity to engage in physical activity and exercise. Barriers to movement should be minimized to promote optimal development of the neuromusculoskeletal system and to support engagement in sufficient physical activity for weight management. Healthcare professionals should screen for neuromusculoskeletal impairments as well as personalize interventions and modify standardized exercise interventions to optimize obesity treatment. Further research should explore whether neuromusculoskeletal impairments influence the success of obesity treatment or whether they improve following obesity treatment.

Keywords: Activity limitation; Musculoskeletal impairment; Pediatric obesity; Personalized treatment; Physiotherapy; Rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Pediatric Obesity* / diagnosis
  • Pediatric Obesity* / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity* / therapy