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Is obesity linked to MSK conditions?

Population trends identify rising levels of obesity and inactivity, both of which can exacerbate the impact of musculoskeletal conditions.
Living With Overweight Or Obesity

Population trends and surveys identify rising levels of obesity and inactivity both of which can be a causal factor and exacerbate the impact of some musculoskeletal conditions. Obesity has been associated with a higher prevalence of MSK conditions, primarily affecting the lower limbs. Excess weight increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis and other MSK conditions.

Compared to people who are of a healthy or normal body weight, people who are obese are:

-Two times more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis,34 with many estimates putting the risk between four and six times greater.
– Between 1.5 and 2.5 times more likely to have back pain, rising to four times more likely among those who are highly obese.
– Two times more likely to develop gout and tend to develop it at a younger age.
– At a significantly increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

As the prevalence of obesity increases, the societal burden of these chronic MSK conditions, in terms of disability, health-related quality of life, and health-care costs, also increases. Obesity is a significant risk factor for both the development and progression of Osteoarthritis (OA). An association, though modest, has also been demonstrated between obesity and OA at other sites such as the hip, hand and femoral joint, suggesting that both mechanical and metabolic factors may be responsible for the link between OA and obesity. Obesity is also an important risk factor for the progression of knee OA and has long-term detrimental effects on the knee joint. With the impact of an ageing population and a growing obesity rate, it is predicted by 2035 there will be approx. 8.3 million people living with knee osteoarthritis. Alt text for screen readers

Obesity directly damages weight-bearing joints and is consistently a significant risk factor associated with the occurrence of high prevalence of pain in the neck, shoulder, elbow and wrist. The chronic pain and disability associated with musculoskeletal conditions not only significantly affect an individual’s quality of life but often results in the early uptake of a sedentary lifestyle associated with various serious comorbidities.

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Musculoskeletal Health: A Public Health Approach

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