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Am J Epidemiol. 2008 May 1;167(9):1110-9. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwn007. Epub 2008 Mar 11.

The association between obesity and the prevalence of low back pain in young adults: the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study.

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  • 1Musculoskeletal Disorders Team, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland.


Both low back pain (LBP) and obesity are common public health problems, yet their relation remains controversial. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between weight-related factors and the prevalence of LBP in young adults in Finland. Participants in the ongoing Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study aged 24-39 years were included (N = 2,575). In 2001, 31.2% of men and 39.5% of women reported LBP with recovery within a month or recurrent or continuous pain during the preceding 12 months. For women only, those with higher body mass index, waist circumference, hip circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, serum leptin level, and C-reactive protein level showed an increased prevalence of LBP. With all weight-related factors in the model, only waist circumference was related to LBP in women. For women, the odds ratios of LBP were 1.2 (95% confidence interval: 0.8, 1.8) for a waist circumference of 80-87.9 cm and 1.8 (95% confidence interval: 1.0, 3.2) for a waist circumference of > or =88 cm compared with a waist circumference of <80 cm. This association was independent of C-reactive protein, leptin, and adiponectin levels. The authors' findings in a relatively young population suggest that abdominal obesity may increase the risk of LBP in women.

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