HEALTHY LIVING

Obese People Have Higher Rates Of Daily Pain, Survey Shows

02/22/2012 06:23 pm ET

Obesity doesn't just increase the risk of health problems like diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure and cancer -- a new survey shows that a high body mass index (BMI) is also linked with higher rates of daily pain.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index surveyed more than 1 million people in the U.S., and found that the higher a person's BMI, the more likely that person was to report experiencing pain everyday.

Specifically, the survey showed that daily pain is experienced by 44.1 percent of people with a BMI of 40 or higher, 34.7 percent of people with a BMI between 35 and 40 and 27.7 percent of people with a BMI of 30 to 35. (Obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30 or more.)

Nearly 22 percent of people who are overweight (with a BMI of 25 to 29) experience daily pain, and 18.9 percent of people who are underweight or normal weight (BMI less than 25) experience daily pain, according to the survey.

Researchers found that women were more likely to report having daily pain than men, with 49.1 percent of women with a BMI of 40 or above saying they had daily pain, compared with 38.8 percent of men. Results of the survey were published recently in the journal Obesity.

Researchers found that even after accounting for diseases that may cause daily pain, the link between pain and obesity still held true. They offered up several possible reasons: inflammation and pain are linked with processes that are triggered by excess fat in the body; and a reverse link, that painful conditions like arthritis may cause someone to not exercise as much, thereby resulting in the weight gain contributing to obesity.

Recently, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development released a new report showing that obesity rates have slowed in many developed countries in the last 10 years, but there are still more obese people in these countries than there ever has been before.

For a look at the 10 most obese countries in the OECD report, click through the slideshow:

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