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Obesity rising in adults with arthritis

As obesity prevalence increases among adults with arthritis, the author of a new study is urging primary care physicians to regularly assess the weight and activity levels of patients with the condition. Doctors should talk to obese patients with arthritis about ways to shed pounds through diet and low-impact exercises, said Jennifer Hootman, PhD, lead author of the study in the April 29 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Low-impact exercises include riding a stationary bike, swimming, walking and water aerobics. Hootman encourages doctors to schedule follow-up visits to monitor progress. "When obese people [with arthritis] are inactive, their arthritis gets worse, because their muscles get weak. When people who are a normal weight get arthritis, they often gain weight because they're inactive. ... We really want to try and address this, because we can break the cycle," said Hootman, an epidemiologist with the CDC's Arthritis Program. Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the U.S., limiting the activities of nearly 21 million adults, the CDC said. Obesity exacerbates the condition by increasing pain and decreasing function, Hootman said. Researchers examined data on nearly 1.5 million adults 18 and older from the 2003-09 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The system is a telephone health survey that tracks health conditions and risk behaviors in the U.S. Arthritis and obesity prevalence were gathered in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009. Researchers found that, on average, obesity prevalence was 54% higher among adults with arthritis than in participants without joint inflammation (www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6016a4.htm). Respondents were defined as having the condition if a health professional had diagnosed them with some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus or fibromyalgia. In 2003, one in three adults in the U.S. with arthritis was obese, the study said. Obesity prevalence in 2009 climbed to about 35% in adults with arthritis. Obesity among arthritis patients was more prevalent in the South in 2009 than in other parts of the country. The full and original article can be found at: http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/05/16/hlsb0517.htm
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