Study Suggests that Obesity Is Linked to Arthritis
American Women Are Especially at Risk
Obesity may increase your risk of developing arthritis, according to a study in the March 2010 issue of Arthritis Care & Research. The research compared the prevalence and risk factors of arthritis between the United States and Canada.
The researchers found a higher prevalence of arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitations (AAL) in the US, compared to Canada. AAL refers to the negative impact arthritis can have on how well you perform your day-to-day activities.
The researchers reported that the increased prevalence of arthritis in the US is caused by the fact that Americans are generally less physically active and more obese than Canadians. In particular, American women struggle with staying active and managing a healthy weight—and they had the highest prevalence of arthritis and AAL.
The researchers analyzed the Joint Canada/US Survey of Health (JCUSH) to determine these findings. The JCUSH was a telephone survey conducted between 2002 and 2003 and included responses from approximately 3,500 Canadians and 5,200 Americans. It contained information about weight and activity levels in patients with arthritis and those whose arthritis affected their daily activities.
The results of the JCUSH data showed that the US prevalence of arthritis was 18.7% and AAL was 9.3%, compared to 16.9% and 7.4%, respectively, in Canada. For American women, researchers found that the prevalence was 23.3%, compared to 19.6% for Canadian women.
The research team concluded that the higher prevalence of arthritis in Americans, particularly American women, may be attributed to the higher rate of obesity in America. The authors suggest that more public health initiatives are needed to curb obesity and promote physical activity. This, in turn, may help reduce the prevalence of arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitations in the US.
To learn more about this study, you may access the abstract here.
Obesity Affects More than Your Arthritis Risk
We all know that obesity increases your risk for many health conditions—heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even arthritis. Carrying extra weight also has a negative impact on the health of your spine.
If you are overweight or obese, you are putting unnecessary stress on your spinal muscles. In other words, you're forcing your back to work harder than it should—and this will significantly increase your chances of developing back pain.
One of the best preventative measures you can take is to exercise and eat healthy foods to help manage your weight. For good places to start, visit SpineUniverse's Exercise Center and Weight Loss Center.
And to learn more about how your weight affects your spine, read our article about back pain and obesity.