Associations of childhood overweight and obesity with upper-extremity fracture characteristics

Derek T. Nhan, Arabella I. Leet, R. Jay Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States, and is associated with an increased risk of lower-extremity physeal fractures, and fractures requiring operative intervention. However, no study has assessed the risk upper extremity physeal fractures among overweight children. Our purpose was to compare the following upper-extremity fracture characteristics in overweight and obese children with those of normal-weight/underweight children (herein, "normal weight"): mechanism of injury, anatomical location, fracture pattern, physeal involvement, and treatment types. We hypothesized that overweight and obese children would be higher risk for physeal and complete fractures with low-energy mechanisms and would therefore more frequently require operative intervention compared with normal-weight children.We performed a cross-sectional review of our database of 608 patients aged 2 to 16 years, and included patients who sustained isolated upper-extremity fractures at our level-1 pediatric tertiary care center from January 2014 to August 2017. Excluded were patients who sustained pathologic fractures and those without basic demographic or radiologic information. Using body mass index percentile for age and sex, we categorized patients as obese (≥95th percentile), overweight (85th to <95th percentile), normal weight (5th to <85th percentile), or underweight (<5th percentile). The obese and overweight groups were analyzed both separately and as a combined overweight/obese group. Demographic data included age, sex, height, and weight. Fractures were classified based on fracture location, fracture pattern (transverse, comminuted, buckle, greenstick, avulsion, or oblique), physeal involvement, and treatment type. Of the 608 patients, 58% were normal weight, 23% were overweight, and 19% were obese. There were no differences in the mean ages or sex distributions among the 3 groups.Among patients with low-energy mechanisms of injury, overweight/obese patients had significantly greater proportions of complete fractures compared with normal-weight children (complete: 65% vs 55%, P = .001; transverse: 43% vs 27%, P = .006). In addition, the overweight/obese group sustained significantly more upper-extremity physeal fractures (37%) than did the normal-weight group (23%) (P = .007).Compared with those in normal-weight children, upper-extremity fracture patterns differ in overweight and obese children, who have higher risk of physeal injuries and complete fractures caused by low-energy mechanisms.Level of Evidence: Level III, retrospective comparative study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E25302
JournalMedicine (United States)
Issue number18
StatePublished - May 7 2021


  • children
  • fracture
  • obesity
  • physeal involvement
  • upper extremity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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