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Childhood Obesity May Be the Strongest Predictor

Researchers found that obese and older women may be more susceptible to osteoarthritic hip problems and increase their likelihood of having hip replacement surgery. The findings are published in the February issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

While modifiable risk factors have been associated with osteoarthritis of the knee, this is one of the fist major studies to examine the role of weight, age, physical activity and other risk factors on hip osteoarthritis.

In a study of more than 121,000 women, 568 cases of total hip replacement were analyzed. Researchers found that among these patients, the risk of hip replacement for obese women increased three-fold when compared to women in the lowest body mass index category. Importantly, researchers also discovered that risk of hip replacement could be established early in life. Women who were severely obese at age 18 faced a five-fold increased risk of future hip replacement. Overall, the study revealed that being overweight at young age was a greater predictor of risk than being overweight later in life.

Age was also significantly associated with increased risk of hip replacement. Women aged 70 and older were nine times more likely to have a hip replacement than those younger than 55 years. However, the researchers found no link between smoking, alcohol, postmenopausal hormone use or recreational physical activity and increased risk of hip replacement.

Currently, there is limited biological data to explain the relationship between weight and hip osteoarthritis. Previous studies suggest that excess fat on the thighs may alter the gait symmetry, stride width and stability, thus resulting in increased pressure on the hip bones and joints. Additional research is required to fully understand this relationship., Source: Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH)


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