Health experts are cautioning that gout risk is on the rise due to the current lifestyles that are leading to weight gain. Extra body fat – particularly “visceral fat” – plays a notable role in the body processes that can lead to this very painful condition.
Unfortunately, the increased reliance on take-out, the increased trend toward overeating, and the reduced overall physical activity levels that became a part of the pandemic lifestyle not only contributed to a widespread weight gain trend, but it also raised our gout risk. Overweight and obesity rates have skyrocketed over the last couple of years.
Unfortunately, weight gain isn’t an island unto itself. With enough additional body fat, additional health factors also come into play. There is an increased likelihood of conditions ranging from type 2 diabetes to heart disease as well as certain cancers. That said, there is also an increase in gout risk, which many people don’t realize is the case.
Gout risk increases when there is a build up of excess uric acid. This can lead to the formation of sharp crystals that become trapped within the joints. Uric acid is a substance that occurs naturally in the body when purines – a substance found in many foods, but particularly beer, shellfish and red meat – are broken down.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, uric acid is usually eliminated through the kidneys, preventing the buildup that leads to the crystals in the joints. However, when the body is carrying excess stored fat, gout risk increases because of reduced kidney efficiency. Among people with obesity, the difference is ten times higher. Moreover, individuals with a high body mass index are also likely to develop this condition a decade sooner than people with a healthy body weight.
Beyond the increased gout risk associated with increased body fat levels overall, it should be noted that body shape also plays a role in the likelihood of developing this condition. People who gain most of their weight as visceral fat (around the belly area) are more likely to develop this condition than those whose body fat storage occurs primarily elsewhere, such as in the hips, butt and thighs. In fact, this is even the case among people who aren’t technically overweight.
Experts believe that this could be because visceral fat produces more of the inflammatory chemicals associated with triggering gout risk than the subcutaneous fat found around the thighs and backside.
Still, if you’re looking to reduce your gout risk, it can work in your favor to stick to a healthy diet that avoids foods that are particularly high in purines and with a focus on weight control, to tack on the benefits of a metabolism booster to support that effort, to keep up regular daily exercise, and to focus on stress management and quality sleep. While this won’t guarantee that you won’t one day develop the condition, it does help you to keep on top of the risk factors within your control.