Obesity is an important risk factor for the development and progression of osteoarthritis (OA). Recently, the paradigm that obesity predisposes people to OA because of extra-mechanical loading only has shifted to the paradigm that metabolic factors (adipokines) are also involved in the pathophysiology of OA. In a cross-sectional study in the previous issue of Arthritis Research & Therapy, Massengale and colleagues investigated the association between one of the adipokines - leptin - and hand OA. Hand joints are an ideal target to investigate the role of adipokines since they are not weight-bearing. Interestingly, no association with OA was found, bringing into question a metabolic, rather than a mechanical, explanation for the association between obesity and OA.