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Date published: 10/17/2010
AP Medical Writer
ATLANTA--A surprising jump in the number of Americans hobbled by arthritis may be due to obesity, health experts said recently.
About 22 percent of U.S. adults have been told by a doctor that they have arthritis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. That translates to nearly 50 million people with the joint disease.
The percentage of sufferers is roughly the same as reported in a 2003-2005 study. But there was a jump--from 8.3 percent to 9.4 percent--in adults who said their symptoms limited their activities. That means more than 21 million adults have trouble climbing stairs, dressing or doing other things, up from less than 19 million a few years before, the CDC estimated.
That jump was "more than we would have expected," said Dr. John Klippel, president of the Atlanta-based Arthritis Foundation.
Klippel said the increase probably was due mainly to baby boomers who have reached an age when they are more likely to suffer arthritis. A complicating factor is high rates of baby boomers who are overweight. Extra weight puts more pressure on arthritic joints, making the problem worse, he said.