The age for knee replacement surgery has dropped due to the obesity crisis, a new study has revealed.
Those with the highest Body Mass Index (BMI) were having surgery up to seven years earlier than those of a healthy weight.
In fact, more than half undergoing the procedure were obese, according to researchers from the University of Queensland, which is located in the city of Brisbane, in the north-eastern Australian state of Queensland.
And obese women are more than 17 times more likely to have a knee replacement than their slimmer counterparts.
Researchers found that of the 56,217 patients in the study who underwent a knee replacement for osteoarthritis (OA), 57.7 percent were obese.
In the United Kingdom, one in five people over the age of 45 have osteoarthritis of the knee. Depending on where you live, up to six people in every thousand of that age have a knee replacement.
The study by The University of Queensland Rural Clinical School (UQRCS) compared data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) 2017-18 National Health Survey with the Australian Orthopedic Association National Joint Replacement Registry.
UQRCS Head of Research, Associate Professor Srinivas Kondalsamy-Chennakesavan said the effects for women were striking.
He said: “Obese women aged 55–64 years were up to 17.3 times more likely to undergo a knee replacement than their healthy weight counterparts, while obese men in the same age group were up to 5.8 times more likely.”
He added: “Obese patients with the highest BMI ratio were also seven years younger on average when they had a knee replacement, compared to normal weight individuals.”
Lead investigator of the study published in ANZ Journal of Surgery, Dr. Chris Wall, said: “Modest weight loss has been found to effectively reduce knee osteoarthritis symptoms and obese patients who maintained a 10 percent body weight loss experienced significant improvement in pain and function.”
He added: “By 2030, it’s expected more than 161,000 knee replacements will be conducted annually.
“Urgent action is needed at a national level to change our approach towards reducing obesity or Australia may face a growing burden of revision knee replacement in the future.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity has nearly tripled globally since 1975.
The WHO said that in 2016 over 1.9 billion adults were overweight, and that this number included over 650 million people who were obese.
The WHO also said that in 2020, 39 million children under the age of five were overweight or obese.
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