Importance: The population impact of modifying obesity and other key risk factors for hyperuricemia has been estimated in cross-sectional studies; however, the proportion of incident gout cases (a clinical end point) that could be prevented by modifying such factors has not been evaluated.
Objective: To estimate the proportion of incident gout cases that could be avoided through simultaneous modification of obesity and other key risk factors.
Design, setting, and participants: The Health Professionals Follow-up Study is a US prospective cohort study of 51 529 male health professionals enrolled in 1986 and followed up through questionnaires every 2 years through 2012. Self-reported gout cases were confirmed through June 2015. Clean and complete data used for this analysis were available in June 2016, with statistical analyses performed from July 2016 to July 2019.
Exposures: From data collected in the validated questionnaires, men were categorized to low-risk groups according to combinations of the following 4 factors: normal body mass index (BMI [calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared]; <25), no alcohol intake, adherence to Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)-style diet (highest quintile of DASH diet score), and no diuretic use.
Main outcomes and measures: Population attributable risks (PARs) for incident gout meeting the preliminary American College of Rheumatology survey criteria, overall and stratified by BMI.
Results: We analyzed 44 654 men (mean [SD] age, 54.0 [9.8] years) with no history of gout at baseline. During 26 years of follow-up, 1741 (3.9%) developed incident gout. Among all participants, PAR for the 4 risk factors combined (BMI, diet, alcohol use, and diuretic use) was 77% (95% CI, 56%-88%). Among men with normal weight (BMI <25.0) and overweight (BMI 25.0-29.9), we estimated that more than half of incident gout cases (69% [95% CI, 42%-83%] and 59% [95% CI, 30%-75%], respectively) may have been prevented by the combination of DASH-style diet, no alcohol intake, and no diuretic use. However, among men with obesity (BMI ≥30), PAR was substantially lower and not significant (5% [95% CI, 0%-47%]).
Conclusions and relevance: The findings of this cohort study suggest that addressing excess adiposity and other key modifiable factors has the potential to prevent the majority of incident gout cases among men. Men with obesity may not benefit from other modifications unless weight loss is addressed.