Introduction: Obesity, usually characterized by the body mass index (BMI), is a risk factor for hand osteoarthritis (OA). We investigated whether adipose tissue and abdominal fat distribution are associated with hand OA.
Methods: The Netherlands Epidemiology of Obesity (NEO) study is a population-based cohort aged 45 to 65 years, including 5315 participants (53% women, median BMI 29.9 kg/m²). Fat percentage and fat mass (FM) (kg) were estimated using bioelectrical impedance analysis. The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) was calculated. In 1721 participants, visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) (cm²) were assessed using abdominal MR imaging. Hand OA was defined according to the ACR criteria.
Results: Hand OA was present in 8% of men and 20% of women. Fat percentage was associated with hand OA in men (OR 1.34 (95% CI 1.11 to 1.61)) and women (OR 1.26 (1.05 to 1.51)), as was FM. WHR was associated with hand OA in men (OR 1.45 (1.13 to 1.85)), and to a lesser extent in women (OR 1.17 (1.00 to 1.36)). Subgroup analysis revealed that VAT was associated with hand OA in men (OR1.33 (1.01 to 1.75)). This association increased after additional adjustment for FM (OR 1.51 (1.13 to 2.03)).
Conclusions: Fat percentage, FM and WHR were associated with hand OA. VAT was associated with hand OA in men, suggesting involvement of visceral fat in hand OA.