Weight Loss and Arthritis

Learn how you can lessen joint pain and other health risks by losing weight.  

Most people know that maintaining a healthy weight is important for their overall health and wellbeing. Despite this, over 63% of Australian adults are overweight or obese, making it the second highest contributorto burden of disease.

It is important to keep in mind that losing weight is not a race – whether you need to lose 10, 20 or 50kg’s – and the benefits of losing weight and being physically active go far beyond how you look in the mirror. It’s a lifelong process to become a healthier you – for yourself and your family.

As always, consult your health care team before beginning any weight loss program.

Benefits

Reduces pressure on your joints:  Losing weight can help to reduce the severity and pain associated with arthritis, and also helps to avoid the need for costly and traumatic surgeries. A 2014 study conducted by Australia’s National Preventative Health Agency reported that obesity increases the risk of arthritis and back pain.

There are many reasons why this is the case. One of the more common reasons is that any additional weight we carry, the more pressure we place on our joints. It is estimated for every kilo of excess weight we carry, an extra load of 4kgs is put on our knee joints. This not only increases the risk of developing arthritis, it may also increase the pain and swelling associated with the conditions.

Lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke: Australia’s National Vascular Alliance reports that every hour, five Australians die from heart, stroke and blood vessel disease. Obesity is a risk factor for all these conditions. Research also shows that people with some form of arthritis are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, making the need to control weight all the more critical (read our article on inflammatory arthritis and heart disease here). 

Studies have shown that losing weight can lower your blood pressure into a healthy range. In addition, eating right and engaging in physical activity that leads to weight loss can lower your cholesterol.

Overall

Weight loss is a tough endeavor, but no single action can provide as many positive effects on the body as weight loss. Its benefits for your body far outnumber the challenges you’ll meet as you work toward your weight loss goal.  

Talk to your health care team about starting your weight loss program to gain lasting, better overall physical and mental health.

Adapted from, Benefits of Weight Loss by Teresa T. Gentry - http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/losing-weight/weight-joint-pain.php

Additional references