Chronic pain, defined as pain that persists for three months or longer, is known to be common among older people, Dr. Richard B. Lipton and colleagues from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, note. Obesity is becoming increasingly prevalent among US seniors, they add, so studying the relationship between excess weight and chronic pain among older people -- as well as the role of conditions that might influence both pain and obesity, such as mental health problems, should be studied.
We know where this is going, right? If you have chronic pain, it's because you're fat and all that fat is putting too much pressure on joints and the rest of your body. If you just got rid of all the fat, you'd also get rid of the pain. Why do I think that's where this study is going? Isn't that where most of these studies go?
To that end, Lipton and his team looked at 840 men and women participating in the Einstein Aging Study, an ongoing investigation of people 70 and older living in the Bronx.
Overall, 52 percent had some type of chronic pain, including 40 percent of men and 59 percent of women. People with chronic pain were at double the risk of having symptoms of depression or anxiety compared to those who were pain-free. Chronic pain was twice as common among obese people as normal-weight individuals, and four times more common among the severely obese.
Obese people were more likely to have pain in virtually every part of the body than were normal-weight people, including the head, neck, or shoulder; back, legs or feet; or abdomen or pelvis.
Ok, for one thing, 840 people over the age of 70 is not a large enough group to be able to come to any serious conclusions about anything.
For another thing, trying to figure out which came first, the chronic pain or the obesity, should have been their first priority. Could it possibly be that the chronic pain made it more difficult or impossible to have any kind of active lifestyle, and that may have contributed to weight gain? Did they select people who had been fat all their lives and developed chronic pain in their later years? Want to bet they didn't even look for that factor? Did they bother to find out what kind of work those people did before retirement, since the type of work you do for a lifetime can contribute to chronic pain? Probably not, not relevant if all you're looking to prove is that being fat causes chronic pain.
Obesity could contribute to chronic pain by adding stress to the joints, Lipton and his colleagues say. In addition, obesity promotes inflammation, which could be a contributing factor.
More research is needed, they conclude, to understand whether obesity plays a causal role in chronic pain, and if so what mechanisms might be involved.
Didn't I say that they think fat causes chronic pain? More research is needed, my ass. Only if that research is unbiased and impartial and takes into consideration all the factors that can contribute to chronic pain, not just fat.
Just off the top of my head, some factors contributing to chronic pain can be diseases (fibromyalgia, anyone?), type of work performed in one's working years, injuries sustained (work, sports, exercise, recreational, etc), and depression. I'm sure there are other things related to chronic pain, but to say that any one of them is more causal than any other one is going to take one hell of a study (and I don't think that kind of study can be designed without bias and prejudice thrown in there). I also don't think they'll be able to find enough people over 70 willing to participate in a study like that (and data dredges don't mean shit as far as proving anything about anything).