Obesity, Other Factors Causing More Americans to Develop Gout

Many researchers are blaming the national obesity epidemic for causing a growing number of Americans contracting gout, a painful form of arthritis.

Many researchers are blaming the national obesity epidemic for causing a growing number of Americans contracting gout, a painful form of arthritis. In 2008, an estimated 4 percent of adults (8.3 million people) had gout compared to the slightly larger than 1 percent between 1988 and 1994.

The higher rates of both obesity and high blood pressure appeared to account for most of the increase, said Dr. Hyon K. Choi, a professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and the senior researcher on the study. The high prevalence of gout in recent years did not surprise Choi because “it had been on the rise before and there was no reason to believe that it would be slowing down, since risk factors are on the rise.”

Gout is a very painful form of arthritis that causes the joints to periodically become swollen, red, and hot. The big toe is most often affected but the disease also targets the feet, ankles, knees, hands, and wrists. When uric acid crystals build up in the joints, they can become more and more frequent until gout arises.

Choi stressed that getting regular exercise and sticking to a well-balance diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables is the best way to avoid gout. He noted that the lifestyle change “will help with not only gout, but other conditions like diabetes and heart disease.”

Around the Web

More Americans developing gout; obesity blamed [Reuters]

Prevalence of Gout and Hyperuricemia in the US General Population [Proceedings from Wiley Online Library]