Overweight and Obese Patients Less Likely to Achieve Remission in Early Rheumatoid Arthritis

Obese and overweight ERA subjects required 2.4 times more anti-TNF therapy throughout the study than normal weight participants without achieving similar remission outcomes.

RA is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disease affecting approximately 1 in 100 people worldwide. RA can cause pain, stiffness, progressive joint destruction and deformity, and reduce physical function, workability, quality of life and life expectancy. At least 50% of RA patients in developed countries are unable to hold down a full-time job within 10 years of onset.2

Obesity continues to remain one of the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century; numbers of those affected rise each year, with the disease now causing 10-13% of deaths in Europe.3

"Obesity and rheumatoid arthritis are both on the rise, with devastating effects on individuals and society as a whole. These data reinforce the link between obesity and inflammation, and establish that BMI is one of the few modifiable variables influencing the major outcomes in RA," said Elisa Gremese, Division of Rheumatology, Institute of Rheumatology and Affine Sciences, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome. "There is an urgent need to address the issues of overweight and obesity to improve patients' chance of successful remission."

346 ERA patients with symptom duration <12 months were categorized into one of three BMI classes (normal weight, overweight and obese) and treated according to a treat-to-target strategy aimed at remission. The strategy included strict follow-up visits, treatment with methotrexate up to 25mg/week+steroids, and combination with a TNF blocker if at least a good response according to EULAR criteria was not obtained.

Data demonstrate that overweight and obese patients reached a lower rate of remission, both with DAS and CDAI‡ criteria, at 6 and 12 month follow-up visits. A higher percentage of obese and overweight ERA patients were under anti-TNF treatment after 12 months of follow-up compared to normal weight.