Fat mass is a predictor of incident foot pain


  • Disclosure: There are no conflicts of interest to disclose.

  • Author Contributions: All authors were involved in drafting this article or revising it critically for important intellectual content, and all authors approved the final version to be published. Dr Wluka had full access to all of the data in this study and took responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

    Study conception and design: Butterworth, Menz, Urquhart, Cicuttini, Wluka, Strauss, Proietto, Dixon, and Jones were involved in study conception and design.

    Acquisition of data: Butterworth, Urquhart, Cicuttini, Wluka, Strauss, and Proietto were involved in data acquisition.

    Analysis and interpretation of data: Butterworth, Wluka, Urquhart, Cicuttini, Menz, Strauss, Jones, Proietto, and Landorf were involved in data analysis and interpretation.

Correspondence: A. E. Wluka (anita.wluka@monash.edu)



Foot pain is a common complaint in adults. Increased BMI and fat mass have been linked only to foot pain prevalence. Therefore, a longitudinal study to examine the relationship between body composition and incident foot pain over 3 years was conducted.

Design and Methods

Sixty-one community dwelling participants from a previous study of musculoskeletal health, who did not have foot pain at study inception in 2008, were invited to take part in this follow-up study in 2011. Current foot pain was determined using the Manchester Foot Pain and Disability Index, and body composition was measured using dual X-ray absorptiometry at study baseline.


Of the 51 respondents (84% response rate, 37 females and 14 males), there were 11 who developed foot pain. BMI ranged from underweight to morbidly obese (17-44 kg/m2), mean 27.0 ± 6.0 kg/m2. Incident foot pain was positively associated with both fat mass (odds ratio [OR] 1.11, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.03-1.20) and fat-mass index (OR 1.28, 95% CI 1.04-1.57) in multivariate analysis.


Fat mass is a predictor of incident foot pain. This study supports the notion that incident foot pain in overweight individuals is associated with fat mass rather than body mass alone.