Obesity is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis, a common type of arthritis that affects the joints. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints wears away, leading to pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility. Obesity increases the stress on weight-bearing joints, such as the knees and hips, which can accelerate the breakdown of cartilage and lead to osteoarthritis.

Studies have shown that obesity increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis by two to four times compared to individuals who are not obese. Additionally, obesity can make existing osteoarthritis worse and more difficult to manage.

Losing weight through diet and exercise can help reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis and can also improve symptoms in those who already have the condition. Even a modest weight loss of 5-10% can lead to significant improvements in joint pain and mobility. In addition to weight loss, low-impact exercise, such as swimming or cycling, can help improve joint mobility and reduce pain.

It’s important for individuals who are overweight or obese to work with their healthcare provider to develop a plan for healthy weight loss and management. This may include a combination of diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes, as well as possibly medication or surgery in severe cases.