The Consequences of Weight Gain for Arthritis


We all fear weight gain for the obvious aesthetic reasons. Nobody wants to fall prey to obesity for fear of what it may do to his or her appearance, but have you ever thought about what gaining weight can do to your joints? For every pound you gain, three pounds of stress is added to your joints.


obesity sign


Our joints are the places in our bodies where our bones come together in different ways, allowing us to move. Without our joints we would all move like stick figures. So it should come as no surprise that when our joints become damaged our daily life can become very painful and challenging. Let’s take a further look at how weight gain can cause joint damage, which can eventually lead to joint replacement.


Weight and Arthritis

Although there are many joint diseases out there, osteoarthritis is the most common. Just in the U.S., over 27 million people have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, a daunting number indeed.


Joint disease can develop for many reasons, including age and the normal wear and tear of everyday life. However, people who bear extra weight on their joints, are more susceptible to the disease because of the sheer force that is placed on their joints. If you are a person of normal weight, you can still develop osteoarthritis over time. However, imagine if you are five, ten, or twenty pounds overweight; just think about how much additional pressure is on your joints!


It should come as no surprise that the more you weigh, the more chance you have of developing osteoarthritis. In fact, people with obesity are 60% more likely to develop arthritis than people with normal body weight. Men actually have a 42% higher rate of osteoarthritis if they are overweight, and women with a BMI greater than 25 are very likely to get the disease.


Because overweight people are more likely to get osteoarthritis, the disease often progresses rapidly, due to the continued pressure on the joints. As the disease progresses the need for total joint replacement becomes apparent. Since 2010 the number of overweight people who have received a joint replacement has soared by 150%! If this isn’t an indication of a relationship between the rise in obesity and joint replacement I don’t know what is.


The Solution to the Problem

So what is the best way to counteract the negative affects of weight gain on osteoarthritis? Get active and lose weight! In 2005 a study was performed on 150 overweight patients with osteoarthritis. Those patients who experienced weight-loss of 5 percent saw an average of 18 percent improvement in their symptoms. These patients experienced less pain and had improved joint mobility and function.


Losing weight can often be a difficult task. However, if you can save yourself from the pain and frustration of osteoarthritis that could potentially lead to total joint replacement why wouldn’t you? Even the smallest amounts of weight loss can make a huge difference! So start small and dream big.



Editor, Matt Chorley MailOnline Political. “Knees Crumble under Weight of Obesity Crisis: Joint Replacements for Fat People Soar by 150% in Four Years, including Operations for Five Overweight CHILDREN.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 2015.

Obesity Action Coalition » The Wear and Tear of Obesity: The Burden of Weight in Joint Disease.” Obesity Action Coalition The Wear and Tear of Obesity the Burden of Weight in Joint Disease Comments. Obesity Action Coalition.