There needs to be a greater focus on the links between osteoarthritis and obesity and we need to start acknowledging the role obesity plays in related conditions to protect our NHS.
I attended a Parliamentary event hosted by Arthritis Care in which the link between osteoarthritis and obesity was explored, and the alarming scale of the problem was starkly presented to assembled MPs, Peers and experts.
Speaking at the event, Professor Philip Conaghan, Professor of Musculoskeletal Medicine at the University of Leeds and Medical Adviser to Arthritis Care, warned that obesity is a risk factor both in getting osteoarthritis and compounding the problem for osteoarthritis sufferers.
It was illuminating to hear about Professor Conaghan’s work in Leeds and with Arthritis Care. An incredible 8.5m in the UK suffer from osteoarthritis and many of them suffer more than they have to because their weight and joint pain makes it difficult to exercise. Yet this is a vicious cycle, as exercise can actually help relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis, partly by keeping people trim.
Each individual is of course responsible for their own weight but the Government needs to invest in measures such as better weight management programmes. Spending money today can save much, much more money tomorrow and I will be working with the local Clinical Commissioning Group and public health teams to highlight the importance of ensuring that people with osteoarthritis have access to diet and exercise facilities to enable weight loss to take place and be maintained in the long term.
Arthritis Care can help people with arthritis take the first step through their Helplines, courses and the information they provide.