HealthDay News — Severe obesity is associated with more rapid progression of disability in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to a study published online April 30 in Arthritis Care & Research.

Joshua F. Baker, MD, from the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, and colleagues used the National Data Bank of Rheumatic Diseases (Forward; 23,323 participants) and the Veterans Affairs RA registry study (VARA; 1,697 participants) to examine associations between obesity, weight loss, and worsening of disability. The study participants completed the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) or Multi-Dimensional-HAQ over long-term follow-up. 

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The researchers found that at baseline, severely obese patients had higher disability scores versus overweight patients in both Forward and VARA. Furthermore, patients who were severely obese at enrollment had a greater risk of progressive disability vs overweight patients in Forward (hazard ratio [HR], 1.25) and VARA (HR, 1.33). Weight loss after enrollment was also associated with an increased risk in both cohorts.

“Severe obesity is associated with more rapid progression of disability in RA. Weight loss is also associated with worsening disability, possibly by identifying individuals with chronic illness and the development of age-related or disease-related frailty,” the authors write.

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