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Idiopathic adolescent scoliosis and obesity: prevalence study

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Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is a three-dimensional spinal deformity that affects 5% of the population. This pathology has multiple known etiological factors such as family predisposition, female gender, low body mass index, decrease in lean and fat masses. However, recent studies suggest that ciliary dysfunction could be the origin of certain types of obesity and AIS. This study aims to verify the existence of a link between these two pathologies.


A retrospective, cross-sectional, descriptive and monocentric study, based on a cohort of adolescents with obesity treated in a paediatric rehabilitation centre for specific care between 1 January 2010 and 1 January 2019. The prevalence of AIS was calculated by radiographic measurements. The diagnosis of AIS was established if the Cobb angle was ≥ 10°, associated with intervertebral rotation.


196 adolescents with obesity were included in the study (mean age 13.2 years, mean BMI 36 kg/cm2, gender ratio 2.1 of female to male.) The prevalence of AIS in adolescents with obesity was 12.2%, twice the prevalence of AIS in the general population. The characteristics of AIS in adolescents with obesity are predominantly female, 58.3% left thoracolumbar or lumbar principal curvatures, mean Cobb angle 26° and progressive in 29% of cases.


Our study established a correlation between AIS and obesity with a higher prevalence than in the general population. The morphology of these adolescents makes screening for AIS more difficult.

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Correspondence to Jean-François Catanzariti.

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Catanzariti, JF., Rimetz, A., Genevieve, F. et al. Idiopathic adolescent scoliosis and obesity: prevalence study. Eur Spine J 32, 2196–2202 (2023).

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