Obesity in rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2011 Mar;50(3):450-62. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keq266. Epub 2010 Oct 19.


Obesity is a major threat for public health and its study has attracted significant attention in the general population, predominantly due to its association with significant metabolic and cardiovascular complications. In RA research, BMI is frequently reported as a demographical variable, but obesity, as such, has received little interest. This is surprising, in view of the clear associations of obesity with other arthritides, particularly OA, but also in view of the now-clear association of RA with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. In this review, we summarize the studies that have looked into obesity in the RA population, evaluate their findings, identify knowledge gaps and propose directions for future research. We also pose a question of high clinical and research significance: is the use of BMI still a valid way of assessing obesity in RA?

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / immunology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Humans
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / immunology
  • Risk Factors


  • Adipokines