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Arthritis and obesity: How are they connected?

While obesity may not be the only direct cause of arthritis, it can increase your risk factors for developing it. The body mass index also has an impact upon the joints of the body. Excessive body fat/weight takes its toll on all of the joints of the body by adding increased stress and pressure upon them. Understanding the correlation between obesity and arthritis can help you to make changes that may lessen your chances of developing arthritis, and in addition, it can show you how maintaining a healthy body weight can lessen the progression and pain if you already have arthritis.


Correlations between rheumatoid arthritis and obesity

The number of cases of rheumatoid arthritis are on the risk. This particular type of arthritis is caused by an autoimmune disorder which results in the body’s immune system attacking the lining that surrounds the joints. Although the causes of this type are still unknown, researchers wanted to know if particular groups were more likely to develop RA. What they found was that obesity in women increases the risk three fold. It is believed that it also increases the risks for men, but to a lesser degree. The exact reason for this is not known yet, but statistics support this claim.

The effects of obesity on all forms of arthritis

Obesity causes stress and strain on all parts of the body because of the excessive weight that the body must carry. This produces extra work for all systems within the body and additional resources are required to carry out everyday activities. In order to understand the full impact that obesity has upon arthritis it is important to understand what arthritis is.

What arthritis is?

Arthritis is a painful joint condition that is characterized by stiffness, swelling and pain in the joints of the body. It is more common in aging adults due to the natural degeneration of the cells, making them more susceptible to injury or disease, although it can strike people of all ages. Arthritis is also an inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues that occurs because of damage or degeneration to the cartilage that acts as a cushion in between the bones. When the cartilage becomes worn or damaged in any way it cannot provide the protection from friction caused by bone on bone contact and results in irritation. The inflammation can result in stiffness, swelling, tenderness and pain in the joints and surrounding tissues.

How obesity can worsen arthritis

The extra body weight causes more pressure and strain on the joints. This results in an increase in inflammation, swelling and a faster progression of damage to the joints. It can increase the pain and discomfort associated with arthritis. In addition, obesity takes a toll on all of the systems and functions of the body, making them work harder to perform their jobs. This decreases the efficiency of how the body is able to maintain itself and can cause breakdowns in not only joint function, but other vital processes as well.

How losing weight can help to ease arthritis pain

Many patients have shown a remarkable reduction in the symptoms of arthritis through weight loss. Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight not only takes the pressure off of damaged and healthy joints as well, it helps to improve the overall functioning of all of the systems within the body. It allows for a better distribution and resources such as blood flow, oxygenation, nutrient delivery and less energy required for everyday activities.

More research is needed

What is known about obesity and arthritis is that there is a correlation and statistics show that obesity increases the risk by up to twenty percent for women, and it is also believed to increase the chances for men, but the exact number is not known. More research is required to isolate the exact correlations, and it is currently ongoing.


Obesity takes its toll on all of the systems of the body. It increases the chances of developing arthritis and is considered to be a risk factor. Obesity causes extra stress, strain and pressure on the joints and can contribute significantly to increased damage, inflammation, swelling and pain for those who already have arthritis. Lowering the body mass index and losing weight can help to ease the symptoms of arthritis.

Author Bio

Kelly Everson is an American author and having MA in English literature. After spending time as a writer in some of Health Industries best websites, she now works as an independent researcher and contributor for Consumer Health Digest. In her spare time, she does research work regarding Beauty and Women Health, Fitness and overall health issues, which acts as a fuel to her passion of writing. When she is not researching or writing, you can find Kelly staying active, whether it be practicing yoga or taking swimming classes.

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