Understanding How Obesity Can Impact Your Bone and Joint Health



Obesity is a condition in which a person has high levels of body fat or an unhealthy distribution of body fat. Obesity not only challenges physical activity, but also increases the risk of numerous health complications. In addition, excess body fat puts stress on the body’s joints and multiple organs. It causes various changes in hormones and metabolism, leading to increased inflammation in the body.Also read – Could Covid-19 increase the risk of heart disease in the future? Yes it can- Learn how

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines obesity using the Body Mass Index (BMI), which is the ratio of a person’s body weight in kilograms and his height in square meters (kg / m2). A person with a BMI of ≥ 25 is classified as ‘overweight’ and a person with a BMI of ≥ 30 is classified as ‘obese’. According to WHO 2016 figures, 39% of adults worldwide were overweight and 13% were obese. The incidence of obesity has tripled since 1975. Also read – Tiger Shroff’s Birthday: Does the 32-year-old’s body tone and chime? Reveals the secrets of her diet and fitness – see

Over the last two-three decades, dietary habits have changed dramatically, including the consumption of high fat and sugary foods on the one hand and a decrease in physical activity on the other. Obesity has become a major health problem worldwide due to these two factors. While it is known that obesity increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers, people have limited knowledge about its effects on bone and joint health. Also read – Fitness Tips: The Perfect Warm Up Routine For Your Shoulders You Must Follow – See

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Effects on joint health:

Osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are the two most common conditions affecting the joints. Osteoarthritis is characterized by joint damage due to wear and tear, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks its joints and other tissues. Obesity is associated with both OA and RA.

Obesity and osteoarthritis

The effects of obesity on joint degeneration are twofold, including physical and chemical. Obesity increases the risk of mechanical overload cartilage degeneration, especially in weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips (physical impact). In addition, the fat tissue in the body produces certain chemicals, which can result in damage to the cartilage (chemical effect). Research has shown that obese people have an increased risk of OA affecting the joints of the knees, hips, wrists and hands.

Obesity and Rheumatoid Arthritis:

In rheumatoid arthritis, damage to the body’s joints and tissues is mediated by cytokines. Fat tissue in obese individuals also produces and releases cytokines that cause inflammation in the joints. Obesity increases the risk of RA, reduces the likelihood of remission of the disease and adversely affects treatment outcomes.

Obesity and bone mass:

The relationship between obesity and bone mass is complex. Osteoporosis is characterized by loss of bone mass, which makes bones brittle and increases the risk of fractures. Previous research suggests that an increase in body fat leads to an increase in bone mass. This was due to an increase in the mechanical loading of bones in obese people and an increase in the production of estrogen in adipose tissue, which has a protective effect on bone mass. Obesity was considered protective against hip fractures. However, new evidence based on more robust research methods confirms that an increase in body fat can lead to a decrease in bone mass and an increased risk of fractures.

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In conclusion, obesity adversely affects bone and joint health and is a major cause of physical disability. Regular physical activity and healthy eating habits will help combat obesity, especially if applied from an early age. In some cases, hormonal and metabolic factors can also lead to obesity. In such cases, proper medical guidance and treatment can help eliminate the causes of obesity. Monitoring your body weight will help protect all body systems and promote general health and well-being.

(Inputs by Dr. Siddharth M. Shah, Consultant Orthopedics and Joint Replacement Surgeon, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim – Fortis Associate)

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