Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Trends in Obesity and Arthritis

Trends in Obesity and Arthritis Among Baby Boomers and Their Predecessors, 1971Ė2002

Leveille et al. Am J Public Health.2005; 95: 1607-1613.

More evidence that the obesity epidemic is costly and painful.

A Harvard study of obesity and arthritis showed that the rate of obesity and osteoarthritis grew at much higher rates among baby boomers (1946-1965) than in the preceding generation (1926-1945). The rate of obesity for each age group studied was much higher for boomers than their parentsí generation. Baby boomers became obese at an earlier age and spend a longer portion of their lives overweight than their parents. Only 3 percent of arthritis cases were attributed to obesity in 1971; in 2002, 18 percent of arthritis cases were attributed to obesity.

We boomers have grown up with much more information about the importance of exercise and the prevention of obesity, but many of us have yet to learn the lesson.

Osteoarthritis is the leading cause of disability in America, and has been linked to obesity in numerous studies. Other risk factors include previous joint injury or instability, older age, female gender, and genetic predisposition. It cannot be cured, but it can be prevented by getting to or staying at a healthy weight. Regular moderate exercise can help achieve this goal. If arthritis does occur, reducing weight will reduce the forces seen by the damaged joint and help reduce symptoms.

Physical activity and healthy eating are the antidote to obesity. Sometimes, medications are necessary, and occasionally surgery is the answer, but obesity ultimately is a painful, deadly disease. Dealing with obesity before endstage organ system damage occurs (heart attack/sudden cardiac death, arthritis, stroke) can prevent these problems. These diseases are much easier to prevent than to treat.

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