TUESDAY, June 18 (HealthDay News) -- Overweight and obese people
with rheumatoid arthritis are less likely to go into remission in
the early stages of the disease and require much more drug
treatment than people with normal weight, according to a new
The study included nearly 350 people with early rheumatoid
arthritis (RA) who underwent a treatment meant to achieve remission
of their disease. The strategy included strict follow-up visits, as
well as treatment with steroids and the drug methotrexate, combined
with anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapy if a good
response didn't occur. Anti-TNF drugs are used to reduce
inflammation in a variety of conditions.
At six and 12 months of follow-up, overweight and obese patients
had lower rates of remission. After 12 months, a higher percentage
of overweight and obese patients were still on anti-TNF therapy,
compared to normal-weight patients.
The researchers also said overweight and obese patients required
2.4 times more anti-TNF therapy throughout the study than
The study was presented Friday at the annual meeting of the
European League Against Rheumatism in Madrid, Spain. The data and
conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a
"Obesity and rheumatoid arthritis are both on the rise, with
devastating effects on individuals and society as a whole," study
author Elisa Gremese said in an organization news release. "These
data reinforce the link between obesity and inflammation, and
establish that [weight] is one of the few modifiable variables
influencing the major outcomes in RA."
"There is an urgent need to address the issues of overweight and
obesity to improve patients' chances of successful remission," said
Gremese, of the Institute of Rheumatology and Affine Sciences at
the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, in Rome.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects about one in 100 people worldwide.
It can cause pain, stiffness, progressive joint destruction and
deformity, and reduce physical function, quality of life, life
expectancy and the ability to work.
The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and
Skin Diseases has more about