The effect of body mass index on mortality and clinical status in rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis Care & Research , 04/19/2012

Wolfe F et al. – Overweight and obesity reduce the relative risk (RR) of all–cause and cardiovascular mortality across different ages groups and durations of RA. By contrast, overweight and obesity are associated with substantial increased risks of comorbidity, total joint replacement, greater pain, medical costs and decreased quality of life.


  • The authors studied mortality in 24,535 patients over 12.3 years, dividing patients into 3 age groups, <50, 50–70, and >70 years and fit Cox regression models separately within each age stratum.
  • They used BMI categories of <18.5 (underweight), 18.5 to <25 (normal weight, reference category), 25 to <30 (overweight), and =30 (obesity).


  • BMI =30 was seen in 63–68% and underweight in ˜2%.
  • Reduction in the RR (95% CI) for all–cause (AC) and cardiovascular mortality was seen for overweight (AC 0.8, 0.8–0.9) and obese groups (AC) 0.8 (0.7, 0.8), with and without comorbidity adjustment.
  • Underweight was associated with increased mortality risk, 1.9, (1.7, 2.3).
  • By contrast, obesity produced profound changes in clinical variables.
  • Compared with normal weight, the odds ratio in the obese group was 4.8 for diabetes, 3.4 for hypertension, 1.3 for myocardial infarction, 1.4 for joint replacement, and 1.9 for work disability.
  • Total semiannual direct medical costs were $1,683 greater, annual household income $6,481 less, pain scores 1.1 units higher, HAQ 0.28 higher, EuroQOL utility 0.7 units lower in the obese.

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