Arthritis and Obesity

We all know that being overweight is a fast-track way to developing many adverse health conditions. We are frequently told by the media that one of the best ways to stay healthy as we age is to avoid piling on the pounds, and to work to lose any excess weight that we may be carrying. This is certainly the case when it comes to arthritis, and those at the heavier end of the scale run a heightened risk of developing this condition. 

Obesity and Arthritis

Arthritis is probably not the first health problem that springs to mind when you are thinking about the negative issues caused by, or connected to, obesity. However, it is rapidly becoming more well-known that excess weight can raise the risk of a person developing arthritis. Furthermore, being overweight can exacerbate the symptoms of arthritis, making it even more difficult for the patient to manage their condition.

One in five Americans are currently suffering from arthritis, but according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this increases to one in three among obese people.

A shocking proportion of the population is currently considered to be overweight, with two in three people exceeding a healthy weight. Each pound of additional weight that a person is carrying will equate to approximately four extra pounds of pressure on the knee joints. This can quickly lead to premature damage of the knee joints. Not only can this contribute to arthritis, but can also increase the damage and discomfort for someone already struggling with this condition.

The damage experienced by the joints is not the only issue caused by carrying extra weight. Fat itself creates chemicals that are known to promote excess inflammation, and these chemicals are released into the body. These chemicals can prompt the development of certain types of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. More than 27 million people in America currently suffer from this condition. The onset of osteoarthritis can be triggered by an injury, old age and also by certain lifestyle factors. Osteoarthritis can often be hereditary. Weight can also play a role here as the heavier a person is, the more stress and strain they will be placing on their joints. The knee joints and hip joints are especially likely to suffer as a result of a person being overweight.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Approximately 1.5 million people in America have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. This type of arthritis is characterized by the immune system causing damage to joint tissue in the body. When the immune system attacks the joint tissue in this way, inflammation occurs and the joints will become painful. Erosion of the joints will also begin. Rheumatoid arthritis is categorised as an autoimmune disease.

If a person is overweight then the chemicals from the excess fat in the body can contribute towards the damage caused by this disease.

It is worth noting that even people who are not considered to be overweight, but already have a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, should still make an effort to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. This is because the composition of the body will be affected in favour of fat over muscle when a person has this type of arthritis. Patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis are twice as likely as the general population to die from a cardiovascular issue. Many cardiovascular problems are heightened by the presence of excess fat, so it is important to be aware of this and to take proactive steps to avoid obesity.

Gout

Gout is a particular type of inflammatory arthritis caused by a build up of uric acid in the body. When uric acid is present in excess, it forms into crystals in the joints, which can be incredibly painful. Uric acid is a waste product that is created during the natural breakdown of certain foods and drinks, especially meat, seafood and beer.

Gout and obesity are closely connected, and an increased incidence of gout can be clearly observed alongside rising obesity levels. In fact, figures show that approximately 70% of people who suffer from gout are overweight. Avoiding foods that cause uric acid build-up is a good way to help prevent the onset of gout, but working to keep your weight down by making all-round healthy food and lifestyle choices is also a great idea.

Psoriatic Arthritis

This kind of a arthritis affects approximately 30% of people who suffer from psoriasis. Although psoriasis is a condition that causes inflamed skin, the proceeding development of arthritis is an inflammatory issue. However, the two conditions are connected. It has been suggested that obese people struggle more with the symptoms of psoriasis, and also that overweight people are more likely to develop the condition than those who are not.

Making Positive Choices

As you can see, there is a very tangible link between weight and arthritis. It is therefore a good idea to make healthy dietary choices and to instigate positive changes to your lifestyle in order to maintain optimum health. In doing so you can help to future proof your body and to enjoy life to the fullest! 

References

1) http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/comorbidities/obesity-arthritis/fat-and-arthritis.php

2) https://www.arthritiscare.org.uk/do-i-have-arthritis