BWH Logo While knee osteoarthritis (OA) appears as the most common cause of disability in the US, the growing obesity epidemic just can’t be ignored. Experts from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) now assert that both obesity and knee OA shorten the healthy years of life. These two aliments may not only harm the quality, but also the quantity of life.

Known as the most frequent chronic conditions in older Americans, both obesity and knee OA possibly influence the longevity of an individual. In the current investigation, authors employed a mathematical simulation model to assemble national data on the occurrence of knee OA, obesity and other important conditions, namely coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer as well as chronic lung disease. The contribution of obesity and knee OA in damaging the quantity and quality of life was thoroughly analyzed.

“There are 86 million healthy years of life at stake, a disproportionate number of them being lost by Black and Hispanic women,” added Jeffrey N. Katz, MD, Director of the Orthopedics and Arthritis Center for Outcomes Research at the BWH and a senior author of the study. “These staggering numbers may help patients and physicians to better grasp the scale of the problem and the potential benefits of behavior change.”

Also the way impairment is distributed among racial and ethnic subpopulations in the United States was scrutinized. Scientists observed that simply controlling the rise of obesity levels in 2000 could have apparently saved almost 19.5 million years of US adults aged 50-84 years. Reduction in obesity levels would probably prevent 172,792 cases of coronary heart disease, 710,942 cases of diabetes and 269,934 total knee replacements.

The study is published in the February 15 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.