Comparison of Normal Plantar Cutaneous Sensation between Children with Obesity and Peers with Healthy Weight
Gilson, Andrea Cristina
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Obesity is a chronic disease resulting from excessive fat accumulation and body mass. There have been equivocal findings regarding plantar cutaneous in sensation children. Deficits in plantar sensation can impact postural control, balance, and the capacity to proficiently engage in physical activity. Therefore, it is important to establish whether normal plantar cutaneous sensation differs between children who have healthy weight and those who are obese. Twenty-seven subjects from 3rd, 4th, 9th – 12th grades (mean ± standard deviation 12.90 ± 3.6 years) participated in this study. Ten subjects were obese and 17 had healthy weight. Plantar cutaneous sensation was measured using a Semmes-Weinstein pressure aesthesiometer kit. Each subject was tested by one of four assessors whose interrater reliability (α = .710; p = .005) was previously established. Nine sites were tested on each foot. The respective force gram magnitudes required to bend the two thinnest monofilaments (i.e., 0.07 g and 0.4 g) was assigned whenever a subject reported sensing touch at a specific site. Both filaments are associated with normal sensation. An independent samples t-test was calculated to determine plantar sensation differences between children who have healthy weight and those with obesity. Mann-Whitney U test was calculated where assumptions of normality were violated. Statistical significance was set at p < .05. There were 10 and 17 subjects in the obese and healthy weight groups, respectively. There were no significant differences (p > .05) in normal whole foot sensation (i.e., .07 g and 0.4 g monofilaments) on the right and left feet between the groups. Right whole foot sensation of healthy weight subjects (3.5929 g + 0.64742) and right whole foot sensation of obese subjects (3.3410 g + 0.85461) did not differ significantly from each other, t(15.132) = 0.806, p = 0.433. Left whole foot sensation of healthy weight subjects (3.4468 g + 1.01623) and left whole foot sensation of obese subjects (3.2390 g + 1.06027) did not differ significantly from each other, t(18.342) = 0.499, p = 0.623. Additionally, sensitivity among foot regions did not indicate effect of foot region on plantar sensation. Subjects who were obese in this study reported to feel less than subjects with healthy weight. However, there was no significant difference in the values of the plantar sensation scores. It was concluded that normal plantar cutaneous sensation does not differ between preadolescents with obesity and peers with healthy weight. Given the small current sample size, more subjects need to be tested, in order to increase confidence and substantiate findings from this study.
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