A Heavy Toll on Arthritis

Growing rates of obesity among adults with arthritis

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Having arthritis is painful, but being obese can make it worse. Obesity puts arthritis patients at a higher risk for many health complications. Now, experts are worried that obesity could make arthritis an even larger public health problem.

Obesity is becoming more and more common among people with arthritis, over 35 percent, according to a CDC report. In fact, people with arthritis are more likely to be obese than people without arthritis.

"The growing obestity rates are making arthritis a bigger problem."

In order to study the prevalence of obesity among adults with arthritis, researchers looked at data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System - a survey that asks people questions about health-related quality of life, demographics, and behavioral risks.

In people with arthritis, obesity has been linked to the progression of arthritis, disability, activity limitation, a lower quality of life, total joint replacement, and bad results after joint replacement.

Because of this, some people are afraid that obese arthritis patients could become a huge burden to hospitals and cost hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

The Study

  • Obesity is 54 percent more common in people with arthritis than in those without arthritis
  • The prevalence of obesity among people with arthritis was different across states, from 26.9 percent in Colorado to 43.5 percent in Louisiana (2009 measures)
  • In 2003, an average of 33.2 percent of adults with arthritis were obese
  • In 2009, an average of 35.2 percent of adults with arthritis were obese 
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 28, 2011
Last Updated:
May 1, 2011