A prospective, descriptive study was performed at Oakwood Healthcare medical clinics to determine the body mass index (BMI) of patients with heel pain and of a control group of patients presenting for other reasons. A questionnaire was used to obtain information in each of the patient groups and to determine characteristics of patients with plantar fascial heel pain. Standard weightbearing lateral radiographs were taken to determine overall foot structure. The typical patient was female, had heel pain for just over 1 year, with a sedentary to moderate activity level. Although height was comparable, patients with heel pain had a higher BMI (30.4 +/- 0.7) than those without heel pain (28.2 +/- 0.7, p = .04). The BMI appears to play a greater role in heel pain than does foot structure, as the authors found no structural commonalities that would explain these patients' pain. Control patients also reported a higher level of activity. Fifty-one percent exercised three or more times per week for more than 20 minutes each time, while less than half that (25.4%) of heel pain patients did so. While half of the heel pain patients had been treated by other providers prior to visiting our clinic, fewer than 25% of these patients had been instructed to lose weight by a physician. The authors feel that a BMI of 25 (the target for decreased cardiovascular risk) represents a reasonable goal for weight loss that may reduce heel pain.