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06/25/2018

Obesity & Feet: New York State Podiatric Medical Association Study Shows Podiatric Services Improve Health Outcomes and Cost Savings Among Obese Patients

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Obesity & Feet: New York State Podiatric Medical Association Study Shows Podiatric Services Improve Health Outcomes and Cost Savings Among Obese Patients

NEW YORK (June 19, 2018) – A research-based study[1] by the New York State Podiatric Medical Association (NYSPMA) – the largest statewide component of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) – showed that incorporating podiatric care may decrease healthcare costs among obese patients by $1.1 billion. The study also revealed a 19 percent reduction in the odds of a subsequent inpatient admission among obese individuals receiving services provided by a podiatrist.

The results were reported in the NYSPMA white paper, “Podiatric Services Deliver Value and Improved Health Outcomes.” This research study is in support of New York Prevention Agenda and makes the case for integrating podiatry into health care delivery in the treatment of diabetes, obesity, opioids and substance abuse, and fall prevention.

Being overweight or obese is often associated with an increased risk of pain and chronic problems with the feet and ankles, which can lead to further problems with the knees, hips, and back. Weight gain also increases the chance of developing health conditions contributing to foot pain such as gout, tendinitis, and osteoarthritis.

“Our feet carry our entire body weight around and the more you weigh, the harder they work to support you,” said NYSPMA President, Dr. Paul Liswood. “Being overweight can also cause your posture and gait to change, which can affect the arches and tendons in the feet and ankles. Podiatry plays a key role in the prevention and management of chronic diseases, such as obesity, allowing patients to improve their quality of life and increase mobility.”

What’s more, according to a survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), 74 percent of overweight Americans say they experience foot problems. In New York alone, 39 percent of the population is obese. Obesity is a key driver in overall healthcare costs and often associated with job absenteeism and lower productivity at work.

“Foot and ankle conditions can cause serious pain, which can restrict activities that allow a patient to become fit and healthy,” said Dr. Liswood. “Podiatric care can not only help to increase mobility and strength, but can also help catch signs of other health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and nerve and circulatory disorders, which can all be detected in the feet.”

Prevention

Even everyday activities, such as walking and standing, can become uncomfortable to people who are overweight. Painful feet and ankles can make people avoid exercise, which often leads to additional weight gain. Getting a healthy amount of physical activity on a regular basis is important to your overall health and helps prevent obesity-related foot problems.

The NYSPMA offers the following tips for overall foot health:

  • Because being overweight is associated with diabetes, check your blood sugar levels regularly. Keeping blood sugar levels under control reduces the risk of foot ulcers that, untreated, can lead to life-threatening infections or amputation. 

  • Manage diet alongside exercise. Losing weight will relieve some pressure on the feet. If weight-bearing activities like walking or running are too painful, try swimming. While not necessarily a “weight-loss” cardio activity, swimming is a whole body activity with upper and lower body movement.

  • Wear shoes with good arch support and skip wearing flip-flops, slip-ons, and ballerina flats. Have your feet measured to ensure proper fit. Shoes that have support, and fastenings such as laces or Velcro straps, will help to stabilize the feet and take some of the pressure off the tendons supporting the ankles.

  • Foot pain is not normal and will not go away on its own. If foot pain is preventing you from keeping active, make an appointment with a podiatrist as soon as possible. Podiatrists are the most qualified in treating foot and ankle pain.

The NYSPMA complete white paper is available upon request. For more information on obesity and foot health or to find a podiatrist in New York State, visit www.nyfoothealth.com and follow on Facebook and Twitter.

About NYSPMA:

Established in 1895, the New York State Podiatric Medical Association (NYSPMA) is the first organization of its kind in America. NYSPMA is the largest statewide component of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) and its affiliated national network of certifying boards and professional colleges. The NYSPMA and its more than 1,100 doctors of podiatric medicine adhere to a code of strict ethical standards and participate in numerous programs to benefit patients, the podiatric profession, and the general public. For more information, visit www.nyspma.org.

[1] Study conducted by Navigant Consulting, July 2017.

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