CDC Reports Costly Relationship Between Arthritis and Obesity

The CDC’s October 8, 2010 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report finds that “[a]rthritis and AAAL [arthritis-attributable activity limitation] represent a major public health problem in the United States that can be addressed, at least in part, by implementing proven obesity prevention strategies and increasing availability of effective physical activity programs and self-management education courses in local communities.”

Arthritis costs United States $128 billion every year

The Centers for Disease Control identifies arthritis as the most common cause of disability in the United States, costing the nation $128 billion annually. Worse, the CDC predicts that because of the aging population and increasing obesity, a recent study suggests that arthritis will significantly increase by 2030 – and obesity is a contributing cause.

Obesity increases chances of arthritis

While the CDC reports that nearly 50 million adults say they have arthritis, including over 21 million complaining they suffer from “arthritis-attributable activity limitations” (AAAL, or, usual activities limited because of joint symptoms), a key finding is that ‘[a]mong persons who are obese, an age-adjusted 33.8% of women and 25.2% of men reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis.”

The prevalence of arthritis among both men and women, according to the CDC’s October 8th report, finds a significant correlation between increasing body mass index (BMI). In fact, the recent study suggests that double the number of obese people suffer from arthritis, and from arthritis-attributable activity limitations.

Economic and physiological inflammation in the future?

In short, the CDC estimates that for every five United States adults, one suffers arthritis, and its prevalence increases significantly for those who are overweight as compared to those who are at normal or underweight. Given the current $128 billion annual cost, not to mention the significant suffering attributable to arthritis and its symptoms that limit otherwise usual lifestyles for over 21 million adults, CDC anticipates greater suffering and costs in the next two decades unless effective measures are taken.

Interventions to reduce obesity, arthritis and AAAL

Clinical guidelines and public health recommendations emphasize community-based intervention strategies. Such activities should be targeted at self-management, education, increasing physical activities and weight management. The result? Hopefully, if not only to serve as role models for our ever-growing (not just in height) youth, American adults will take the CDC’s findings to heart and strive to incorporate measures that will help maintain healthy weights and activities in their daily lives. This will reduce pain, decrease national expenditures resulting from arthritis caused by obesity, and reduce many other serious health issues known to result from obesity.

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