Effects of obesity on walking patterns and adaptability during obstacle crossing
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Obesity is a worldwide public health epidemic with no sign of yet abating. Although previous studies have examined the impact of obesity on walking, little is known about the effects of practice on walking patterns in individuals with obesity. The purpose of this current study was to evaluate whether an obstacle-crossing task may detect walking deficits in a group of adults electing to undergo bariatric surgery. With a cross-sectional design, we collected walking parameters as 24 adults (M age= 46.19, SD= 12.90) with obese body mass index (BMI) scores (M BMI= 41.68, SD= 5.80) and 26 adults (M age= 21.88, SD= 3.48) with normal BMI scores (M BMI= 23.09, SD= 4.47) walked in 5 conditions for 5 trials each: on flat ground, crossing over low, medium, and high obstacles, and again on flat ground. The timing and distance of participants' steps were collected with a mechanized gait carpet (GAITRite, Inc.). We conducted 5 (condition) repeated measures (RM) ANOVAs on our main dependent variables, which measured how fast (velocity) and long (step length) participants' steps were and how much time they spent with one (single limb support time) versus two (double limb support time) feet on the ground. The results showed within session improvements in participants' walking patterns. Comparisons of the first and last trials on flat ground showed that participants took longer, faster steps by increasing step length and velocity (ps<.01). They also spent more time with one versus two feet on the ground via increased single limb support time and decreased double limb support time (ps<.001). Our findings suggest that an obstacle-crossing task may help spur improvements in walking patterns even before adults elect to undergo bariatric surgery.