The Prevalence of Obesity in Atlantic Canadians with Arthritis

The Prevalence of Obesity in Atlantic Canadians with Arthritis

Vanessa DeClercq

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Arthritis is a condition that affects joints and the surrounding tissues, causing chronic pain, limiting mobility and contributing to disability. There are both non-modifiable risk factors such as age, sex, and genetics as well as modifiable risk factors including physical activity, diet, and obesity that impact the risk of developing arthritis. In addition to reducing risk, maintaining a healthy body weight or body mass index (BMI) may also prevent disease progression, reduce pain, and improve movement.

Not only do the Atlantic provinces have some of the highest rates of arthritis in Canada (up to 25% of the population), but the percent of individuals in Atlantic Canada that are obese (24-30%) is also well above the national average (20%).

BMI is one of the most common measures of obesity, but it does not account for body composition or fat mass distribution. Waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio and percent body fat/fat mass are also commonly associated with the metabolic complications of obesity. BMI at 18 years of age has been shown to be a strong predictor of obesity in adulthood and a gain in BMI units has been associated with increased risk of disease. Few studies have attempted to include more than one measure of adiposity, and there is a lack of research directly comparing the different measures of adiposity in individuals with arthritis.

Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the association between prevalence of arthritis and obesity in Atlantic Canadians using both current and past (age 18) anthropometric data.