Healthy Living

High or Low Weight May Make Rheumatoid Arthritis Worse

The relationship between weight and RA is more complicated than it seems

Dr. Baker and his fellow colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania analyzed the impact of obesity on the progression of RA in more than 25,000 individuals with the disease. They used the gathered data from the Veterans Affairs RA registry, as well as the National Data Bank of the Rheumatic Diseases. The researchers found that RA advanced in a much quicker manner among patients who were obese – regardless of the amount of inflammation seen in their joints. “So, this study suggests that patients with rheumatoid arthritis and obesity would benefit from intentional weight loss through a comprehensive management strategy,” said Dr. Baker. 

Moreover, the research team found that individuals who were thin and experienced unintentional weight loss became disabled much quicker. This lead them to suggest that the association may be due to the fact that as individuals get older and develop ailments (resulting in poor health and frailty), they tend to lose weight. “When we see that someone is losing weight without trying, it’s probably a poor prognostic sign, especially if they are already thin,” said Dr. Baker.