WH&Y authors: Professor Leon Straker

Citation: Perry MC, Straker LM, Oddy WH, O'Sullivan PB, Smith AJ. Spinal pain and nutrition in adolescents - an exploratory cross-sectional study. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2010, 11:138



Background: Spinal pain is an important health issue for adolescents resulting in functional limitations for many and increasing the risk of spinal pain in adulthood. Whilst human and animal studies suggest nutrition could influence spinal pain, this has not been investigated in adolescents. The objective of this exploratory cross sectional study was to evaluate associations between diet and adolescent spinal pain.

Methods: This study surveyed the spinal pain (neck and back) and nutrition (specific nutrients, broad food groups, diet quality and dietary pattern) of 1424 male and female adolescents at 14 years of age, in Western Australia.

Results: Back or neck pain were experienced by around half of the adolescents, with females more likely to experience spinal pain. Nutrition differed between sexes and deviated from optimal intakes. Vitamin B12, eggs, cereals and meat consumption were related to spinal pain in sex specific multivariate analyses including primary carer education level and adolescent waist girth and smoking.

Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that certain aspects of diet may have an association with spinal pain in adolescence.

About The Authors


Leon Straker is a John Curtin Distinguished Professor of Physiotherapy, focussed on adolescent behav...