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Does Being Fat Make You More Hypermobile?

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Being fat makes you more hypermobile, says scientists. They say that the knees are most at risk when you’re heavier, particularly if you’re female. But, remember, it’s not your weight that makes you susceptible to hypermobility; it’s your genetics.

People carrying excess weight and fat are more likely to be hypermobile, according to new research. The study ‘Assessment of Generalized Joint Hypermobility and Its Association With Osteoarthritis, BMI, and Age’ , which was published in March, reports a correlation between a higher BMI and joint manifestations in the knee joints.

It was the right knee of participants that was more likely to be hyperextendable, according to the research. I think this is an interesting finding as the right hand side of my body is more affected by hypermobility than the left hand side.

What else did the study find?

As well as finding that body weight correlates with hypermobility in the knees, the recent study also highlights that:

  • Joint hypermobility is common: The study found a high prevalence of generalized joint hypermobility ( GJH) (67%) among participants, similar to other studies on females.

  • Hypermobility may worsen with age: The study appears to show that hypermobility evolves with age and increases the likelihood of females with with the conditions developing osteoarthritis (OA).

  • Gender matters: Consistent with other research, this study suggests GJH is more common in females.
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Can you be overweight and hypermobile?

Yes, you can be hypermobile and fat, or hypermobile and thin. In fact, anyone can be hypermobile.

I always thought that you had to be slim and really flexible to be hypermobile, but this isn’t the case. You can be any size, including being overweight. You only don’t also have to be able to do gymnastic-type movements. Believe me, I should know.

I’ve always been bigger than average and I never thought I was flexible. For example, I couldn’t do handstands, forward rolls, or anything else like that as a child.

But when I was diagnosed with hypermobility in my early thirties, I discovered that I’m incredibly flexible in joints I hadn’t even thought of, including my:

  • Neck
  • Fingers
  • Toes
  • Knees

Plus, I can also do reverse Namaskar, which is a tell tale sign of having hypermobility.

Can you be fat and have EDS?

It’s just as common to be fat and have EDS as it is to be slim or a ‘normal’ size.

EDS and hypermobility are caused by genetics. How much you weigh has nothing to do with either diagnosis.

However, EDS and hypermobility can contribute to weight gain. This is because joint pain and fatigue can make it hard for people with hypermobility to exercise and move around.

Pain and tiredness caused by hypermobility can also make you grab for convenience food, and unhealthy meals and snacks. This ultimately leads to weight gain. Also, some foods are bad for hypermobility, such as fried food and foods high in sugar.

Does hypermobility get worse with weight loss?

Surprisingly, research has found that losing a significant amount of weight makes the joint pain relating to hypermobility worse.

The study ‘Increased joint pain after massive weight loss: is there an association with joint hypermobility?’ found that after losing weight via bariatric surgery, people with hypermobility experienced a significant increase in novel pain in the ankles, shoulders, hands, and feet compared to the weight loss surgery patients without hypermobility.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should avoid losing weight if you’re overweight or obese. There are substantial health benefits associated with weight loss, including reducing your risk of some cancers, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and more.

Does hypermobility get worse with weight gain?

We’ve already seen via the study ‘Assessment of Generalized Joint Hypermobility and Its Association With Osteoarthritis, BMI, and Age’ that females carrying excess weight are more likely to report hypermobility in the knee joints.

Carrying excess weight puts excess pressure on the joints – particularly the knee joints. So, this is a possible reason why hypermobility gets worse the more someone weighs. It certainly explains higher levels of pain too.

Author

  • Amy

    Amy lives with hypermobility spectrum disorder (HSD). She spent years not knowing what was wrong with her body, before eventually being diagnosed in her 30s. She has two young children - both of whom are hypermobile.

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