Hey! I hope you’re having a great day!
I’ve been doing some reading lately on the topic of arthritis and I came across an article put forth by The Arthritis Foundation that I wanted to tell you about.
In my line of work, arthritis (specifically osteoarthritis) is a common problem virtually amongst everyone who I see in a typical week. This joint condition affects 27 million Americans and the number just keeps rising.
Osteoarthritis is the progressive deterioration of the cartilage on the end of one or more bones that make up a joint. When this deterioration gets bad enough it can cause painful movement and the joint can eventually become “bone on bone.”
The Center for Disease Control has named many things as risk factors for arthritis, but the one that I think many people overlook is bodyweight and body fat percentage.
Most people don’t think about their weight being an issue until one day their pants don’t fit or they see themselves in the mirror and get disgusted by what they see (this was my tipping point at age 16 when I was 80 pounds heavier than I am now). This causes most people who are not particularly bothered by the superficial aspects of being overweight to not attempt to do anything about it.
In today’s society there is a push to make being overweight acceptable and even perceived as beautiful. There are ads that state “Big is Beautiful” and “Love Yourself the Way You Are” and other things like that intended to make people more comfortable with their weight being in an unhealthy range.
Speaking as someone who helps people get healthy and as one who used to be extremely obese, I hate these types of campaigns. I think they are wrong. I think that making someone feel good about being overweight is as bad as making them feel good about smoking, it just makes them more likely to carry on a preventable risk factor for nearly every disease known to man.
The findings on osteoarthritis completely prove my point. Looking at the mechanics of body weight distribution it has been shown that for every ONE pound of extra weight on the body there is FOUR pounds of extra pressure on the weight bearing joints (hips, knees, feet, etc.) Extra fat in the abdominal area will also cause much more pressure on the spine and force it to hold more weight up against gravity which can lead to faster development of spinal conditions.
Any way you slice it, having extra weight is very risky.
What is interesting about the latest research that is being done on body fat and arthritis is that scientists are finding that the fat tissue itself releases inflammatory chemicals into the body that lead to faster development of osteoarthritis in even the non weight bearing joints, like those in the upper extremity and hands. This means that just having fat on your body creates an environment inside that arthritis is more likely to form in. Wow!
What else needs to be noted is that the process by which people gain extra weight is also a big contributor to arthritis- high caloric intake (usually from inflammatory foods like wheat, dairy, alcohol, saturated fats and sugar) and being more sedentary. So the process of gaining weight, and the weight itself are huge contributors to this extremely common and sometimes debilitating condition.
So even if you or someone you know doesn’t care one lick about the superficial aspects of body weight, keep this info in mind because this one thing could make the difference between living a life in chronic joint pain and not. Also keep in mind that even ONE pound lost reduces FOUR pounds of pressure off some joints. Small hinges truly swing big doors.
Check out the full article here- http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/comorbidities/obesity-arthritis/fat-and-arthritis.php