From Our 2010 Archives
Arthritis on the Increase; Obesity Partly to Blame
Researchers Predict Arthritis Will Increase Significantly Over the Next 20 Years
Reviewed By Laura J. Martin, MD
Oct. 7, 2010 -- Nearly 50 million Americans have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, and 21 million people say the disease limits their physical activities, the CDC says.
In its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for Oct. 8, the CDC says arthritis is increasing, that it's especially common among people who are obese, and that unless Americans learn to control their weight, the prevalence of the disease is sure to keep rising.
Arthritis represents a major public health problem in the United States "that can be addressed, at least in part, by implementing proven obesity prevention strategies and increasing availability of effective physical activity programs and self-management education courses in local communities," study authors write.
Among major findings from the National Health Interview Survey for 2007-2009:
The prevalence of arthritis increases significantly with age and risk is affected by educational attainment, weight, physical activity, and lifestyle factors such as smoking, the authors say. They also report that arthritis-associated activity limitations are on the rise, fueled by the aging of the population as well as increasing obesity rates.
"With the aging population and continued high prevalence of obesity," arthritis is predicted to increase significantly over the next 20 years, the report says.
It's expected that the number of adults with arthritis will hit 51.9 million in 2010 and 67 million by 2030.
Other key findings of the study:
People who were surveyed were asked if they had been diagnosed with some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia by a doctor or other health professional. The report says arthritis results in costs of $128 billion a year and is the most common cause of disability.
The lifetime risk for diagnosis with knee osteoarthritis is 60.5% among people who are obese, double that for normal and underweight people.
The researchers say major efforts are needed to reduce obesity, because even a small weight loss (about 11 pounds) can reduce the risk for knee osteoarthritis among obese women by 50% and could cut mortality risk by half.
SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Oct. 8, 2010.