Public Release: 

Obesity adds to the quality of life burden of rheumatoid arthritis

Obese patients fare worse in fatigue physical condition and pain

European League Against Rheumatism

Barcelona, Spain, Thursday 14 June 2006: The global obesity epidemic was issued with a further health warning today - that obesity exacerbates the quality of life of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). New data presented at EULAR 2007, the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology in Barcelona, Spain, shows that RA in obese patients is associated with worse quality of life outcomes on four key levels: pain, fatigue, physical function and overall utility scores.

In a study of 1041 patients with RA, undertaken Diakonhjemmet Hospital, Oslo, obese participants (OB) reported significantly increased ratings for pain and fatigue than normal weight (NW) participants (Pain: AIMS2 OB 5.47 vs. NW 4.53, p=0.001. Fatigue VAS: OB 53.3 vs. NW 45.4, p=0.015). Obese patients also rated significantly worse physical functioning than normal weight patients (SF-36: OB 43.6 vs. NW 55.6, p=< 0.001).

Lead author of the research Dr Siri Lillegraven commented: "It seems that obesity has an impact on a patient's quality of life and on the self-perceived burden of RA. In the key areas highlighted by this study, RA patients with concurrent obesity scored significantly worse in the quality of life assessments than normal weight patients."

Key areas of self-reported health status (HAQ, MHAQ, SF-36 and AIMS2) and visual analogue scales (VAS) for pain, fatigue and disease activity were used in the study, and patients were grouped according to Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI was classified into normal weight, overweight and obesity. Underweight patients (BMI < 18) were excluded from the study.

Of the 1041 patients sampled, 53.8% (541) fell into the normal weight category, 33% (316) were considered overweight and 10.6% (102) fell into the obese category. Overall, patient groups were compared using ANOVA and linear regression.

The robustness of the study's findings is supported by consistent results across different instruments measuring the same dimensions and a recent report from a Peruvian group (García-Poma et al, March 2007, Clinical Rheumatology). Furthermore, the observed associations remain significant when corrected for age, gender, rheumatoid-factor status and smoking.

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For further information on this study, or to request an interview with the study lead, please do not hesitate to contact the EULAR congress press office on:
Email: eularpressoffice@uk.cohnwolfe.com
Rory Berrie: Onsite tel: +44 (0) 7900 698 946
Camilla Dormer: Onsite tel: +44 (0) 7725 328 983

Abstract number: OPO065

About EULAR

  • The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) is the organization which represents the patient, health professional and scientific societies of rheumatology of all the European nations.

  • The aims of EULAR are to reduce the burden of rheumatic diseases on the individual and society and to improve the treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal diseases. To this end, EULAR fosters excellence in education and research in the field of rheumatology. It promotes the translation of research advances into daily care and fights for the recognition of the needs of people with musculoskeletal diseases by the governing bodies in Europe.

  • Diseases of bones and joints, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis cause disability in 4 - 5 % of the adult population and are predicted to rise as people live longer.

  • As new treatments emerge and cellular mechanisms are discovered, the 8th Annual European Congress of Rheumatology in Barcelona (EULAR 2007) brings together more than 10,000 experts - scientists, clinicians, healthcare workers, pharmaceutical companies and patients - to share their knowledge in a global endeavour to challenge the pain and disability caused by musculo-skeletal disorders.

  • To find out more information about the activities of EULAR, visit: www.eular.org

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