Understanding arthritis: The benefits of weight management

Being overweight or obese can negatively affect your health, including putting extra stress and pressure on your joints. Learning to manage your weight can reduce the symptoms associated with arthritis.

Arthritis is a medical condition that most commonly affects tissue lining the joints. Symptoms include pain, aching, swelling and stiffness. Arthritis affects people of all ages and gender. It is estimated that 26 percent of all adults, over 78 million people, will have arthritis by the year 2040.

There are a number of ways to manage this disease including eating a healthy diet and making physical activity a priority. Weight management is another tool that can help treat and reduce the symptoms associated with arthritis.  

Nearly 68 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. In 2015, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRSS) reported that over 30 percent of Michigan adults are considered obese. According to the Arthritis Foundation losing weight, whether it’s 20, 50 or 100 pounds, can significantly improve your health and provide the following benefits:

  • Reduce pressure on your joints. Studies have shown that by losing just one pound of weight, you can reduce up to four pounds of pressure on your knees.
  • Ease pain and inflammation.
  • Lower the risk of other diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancers.
    • Helps make breathing easier and improve sleep. 

If you think your weight may be contributing to your arthritis symptoms, Michigan State University Extension recommends consulting with your healthcare provider. Your physician can assess and confirm your risk factors (age, activity level, health, body mass index and family history of weight-related health problems) and provide you with the help and resources to begin the process of losing weight through diet and exercise.

MSU Extension offers many programs that promote a healthy lifestyle and empowers people to take control of their personal health. Contact your local MSU Extension office for more information. 

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