Obesity Contributes to Increased Arthritis Rates

Arthritis rates in the United States are rising and it may be a consequence of the rising obesity rate, according to a new study.

New research out of Canada claims that increasing rates of arthritis in the United States could be a consequence of the rise the rate of obesity and physical inactivity.

Arthritis is the leading cause of physical disability, and one of the most frequently reported chronic conditions in the U.S. and Canada. People who are middle aged or older are particularly vulnerable to the disabling condition, which is expected to increase in both countries due to the aging baby boomer population.

In 2005 more than 21 percent of U. S. adults suffered from arthritis or another rheumatic condition and more than 60 percent of arthritis patients were women, according to The National Arthritis Data Workgroup.

Among women alone, the prevalence of arthritis was 23.3 percent in the U.S. and 19.6 percent in Canada.  However, the overall occurrence of arthritis in men was similar for both countries, at around 14 percent.

The researchers suggest that the higher prevalence of arthritis and the limitation on physical activity that can be attributed to arthritis may stem from the rising obesity rate and trend toward physical inactivity in the U.S., particularly in women.

What can be done to reduce the risk of arthritis caused by obesity? Dr. Elizabeth Badley of the Toronto Western Research Institute says that state and federal administrators should implement public health initiatives promoting physical activity and a healthy weight. Doing this, and incorporating arthritis concerns in the message, could reduce the prevalence of arthritis caused by obesity.

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