Current Obesity Reports

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 348–354 | Cite as

Obesity as a Factor Contributing to Falls by Older Adults

  • Michael Madigan
  • Noah J. Rosenblatt
  • Mark D. Grabiner
Ergonomy (N Teasdale, Section Editor)


The growth of the worldwide population of older adults presents significant challenges, many inter-related, that range from the health of individuals to the health of national economies. In the US, more than one-third of older adults may be obese, a condition that may independently increase the risk for mobility impairment, fall-related injury and, possibly, costs of post-injury treatment and care. The effectiveness of conventional exercise-based fall prevention programs is significant but smaller than both the annual rate of falling of older adults and rate of growth of this population, who are at greatest risk for injurious falls. The anthropometric and functional consequences of obesity may impose limitations on the ability to perform compensatory stepping responses following large postural disturbances. The focus of this paper is the potential of task-specific training to improve compensatory stepping responses and reduce falls by obese people given the individual-specific anthropometric and functional consequences of obesity.


Balance Gait Impairment Intervention Injury Mobility Stability Obesity Falls Older adults 



Michael Madigan reports grants from CDC-NIOSH.

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Michael Madigan and Noah J. Rosenblatt declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Mark D. Grabiner has a US patent "Fall prevention training system and method using a dynamic perturbation platform". M.D. Grabiner, R. Greenwald, Buck A, Paflika, R, US Patent number 7,980,856 B2, issue date, 19 July 2011, with royalties paid through the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) . He is also one of the inventors of the ActiveStep treadmill but does not have a FCOI to disclose; UIC owns the patent for the ActiveStep treadmill (Institutional COI).

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Madigan
    • 1
  • Noah J. Rosenblatt
    • 2
  • Mark D. Grabiner
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Engineering Science and MechanicsVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of Kinesiology and NutritionUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Kinesiology and NutritionUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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