Relationship between obesity and plantar pressure distribution in youths with down syndrome

Massimiliano Pau, Manuela Galli, Marcello Crivellini, Giorgio Albertini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to characterize the effect of obesity on foot-ground contact in young individuals affected by Down syndrome (DS) during quiet upright stance. DESIGN: This is a cross-sectional study on 118 individuals with Down syndrome, 59 with obesity aged 3-18 yrs and 59 with normal weight, age-and sex-matched forming the control group. Both groups were evaluated while standing on a pressure-sensitive mat. Foot-ground contact was characterized using contact area and mean pressure calculated for the rearfoot, the midfoot, and the forefoot. RESULTS: The results show that obesity significantly influences the foot-ground interaction, with some differences related to sex. In particular, the females with obesity exhibited larger contact areas and higher plantar pressures (in the forefoot and the midfoot) with respect to the control group, whereas in the males with obesity, only the plantar pressures were found higher than those of the controls. Flatfoot is the prevalent arch type for both groups, but its incidence seems to be unrelated to obesity. CONCLUSIONS: The modifications introduced by obesity in foot-ground contact pressure and area may represent a factor capable of aggravating existing negative podiatric issues associated with Down syndrome. Thus, planning periodical monitoring of foot-ground contact during childhood and adolescence is recommended to avoid possible problems related to adverse effects of repeated excessive mechanical stresses on the plantar region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)889-897
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • Down Syndrome
  • Flatfoot
  • Foot
  • Obesity
  • Plantar Pressure
  • Standing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Medicine(all)


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