The researchers calculated that as many as half of all cases of knee osteoarthritis could be prevented if obesity was eliminated.
Arthritis occurs when cartilage around the joint begins to break down, causing inflammation, pain, and stiffness. It is commonly treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, but many people continue having symptoms despite treatment - in severe cases the disease can be debilitating. According to Arthritis Society, the disease actually consists of more than 100 conditions, including gout and lupus.
To investigate, researchers reviewed 47 studies involving almost 450,000 people that compared the chance of developing knee osteoarthritis in normal weight, overweight, and obese people.
Combining those studies, the authors found that people who were overweight were about twice as likely to get knee osteoarthritis as people of normal weight. For obese people, the risk was almost 4 times higher.
The findings are published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.
For more information on arthritis, visit the Arthritis Society.
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