Study: Anti-Inflammatory Foods Help Mediate Pain in Obese Adults

Anti-inflammatory foods mediated the effects of pain related to body fat in obese patients, according to a new study.1

For their study, researchers conducted a 3-hour home visit to study home environment, food-related behaviors, health, and adiposity in 98 men and women between 20 and 78 years of age. Participants completed a 24-hour food recall interview, and self-reported measures of bodily pain and psychological distress, while researchers collected 3 measures of body fat, including BMI.
Mediterranean Diet Lowers Risk of Adverse CV Events
Nutritional Pearls: Could The Mediterranean Diet Affect Blood Pressure?

The Healthy Eating Index-2010 was used to assess the quality of dietary intake, and mediation models were conducted.

“Mean BMI was consistent with obesity (30.4 ± 7.8; range: 18.2-53.3), and [bodily pain] values (73.2 ± 22.1; range: 0-100) and dietary intake quality (59.4 ± 15.5; range: 26.8-88.1) were consistent with population norms,” the researchers wrote.  

Their findings showed that the Healthy Eating Index-2010 scores mediated the relationship between BMI and bodily pain.

The mediation remained significant when researchers factored in arthritis and joint pain, medication use, psychological distress, age, and education. In addition, the mediation remained significant when researchers used 2 body fat measures.

“We found that a healthy diet explained the link between weight and pain and specifically that seafood and plant proteins such as peas and nuts and beans were key,” stated lead author Dr Charles Emery, professor and of Psychology at Ohio State University and a member of Ohio State’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. “It appears to be telling us that it’s not just the quantity of the food you eat that plays a role in pain for heavier individuals, but the quality of food as well.”2

—Melissa Weiss


1) Emery CF, Olson KL, Bodine A, Lee V, and Habash DL. Dietary intake mediates the relationship of body fat to pain. Pain 158 (2): 273-277.

2) Crane M. Mediterranean diet may decrease pain associated with obesity [press release]. Columbus, Ohio: University of Ohio; February 21, 2017.