Obesity Driving Increase in Arthritis Cases

Obesity could lead to a significant increase in people suffering from arthritis in the U.S. over the next two decades, according to a new study.

Doctors warn that unless Americans can learn to better control their weight, the number of people suffering from arthritis will continue to rise.

A new study reports that 50 million Americans have been diagnosed with the degenerative disease, as determined by the National Health Interview Survey for 2007-2009. More than 42 percent of arthritis sufferers – some 21 million Americans – say that the condition limits their physical activities on a daily basis, according to the Center for Disease Control.

The study, published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, notes that arthritis has become a major health problem in the U.S., with over a million new cases of arthritis being diagnosed every year, making it the nation’s leading cause of disability. The rising obesity rate across all 50 states may be the driving force behind the high number of arthritis cases, experts note.

Among those suffering from obesity, one in three women and one in four men have been diagnosed with arthritis, doubling the number of normal weight people with the disease. Researchers speculate that by 2030, roughly 67 million Americans over the age of 18 will have doctor diagnosed arthritis.

Researchers encourage those who are overweight to engage in a more active lifestyle to help reduce the risk of developing the condition. They insist that the prevalence of obesity-related arthritis could be helped with weight loss, exercise and the implementation of self-management programs in local communities.

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