To Your Health
January, 2023 (Vol. 17, Issue 01)
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High BMI Hurts

By Editorial Staff

High body-mass index is associated with numerous elevated health risks, but one many people don't realize is that being overweight / obese hurts – as in an increased risk of experiencing one or more musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions.

If you doubt whether this is a possibility, you've probably never been overweight / obese; and you certainly haven't seen the results of this massive study involving 192 countries / territories. Weight-related MSK disorders are indeed a global health problem.

Researchers analyzed data from Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study, World Health Organization Global Health Expenditure, World Bank, and International Labour Organization databases, looking for any association between high body-mass index and the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders. They found it: High BMI was associated with 73 million cases of osteoarthritis, 36.3 million cases of low back pain and 16.9 million cases of gout. And overall, these MSK disorders attributable to high BMI contributed to an estimated 7.3 million global years lost to disability in the working-age population (ages 15-84 years).

Do you need to have a conversation with your doctor about your weight? Perhaps it's something you've been putting off – and perhaps your doctor hasn't initiated the conversation. It's a critical discussion if you have high BMI that doesn't have a "healthy" explanation (the most common one: you're an athlete whose muscle mass makes you fall outside the appropriate BMI for your height and weight).

Don't wait until the pain of MSK conditions strikes; work with your doctor to find an effective, long-term solution before your weight starts hurting you (literally) and your health.