Disc Degeneration More Likely in Overweight, Obese Adults

Higher body mass index linked to greater severity in lumbar degenerative disc disease

MONDAY, Jan. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Overweight and obese adults are significantly more likely to have lumbar disc degeneration compared with those who have a normal body mass index (BMI), according to a study published online Jan. 27 in Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Dino Samartzis, D.Sc., from the University of Hong Kong, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study in which 2,599 Southern Chinese volunteers (1,040 male and 1,559 female; mean age, 41.9 years) underwent radiographic and clinical assessment, including sagittal T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar spine. Asian-modified BMI (kg/m²) categories were utilized.

The researchers detected disc degeneration in 72.7 percent of the volunteers. BMI was significantly higher in subjects with disc degeneration (mean BMI, 23.3 kg/m²) compared with subjects without degeneration (mean BMI, 21.7 kg/m²). A significant increase in the number of degenerated levels, global severity of disc degeneration, and end-stage disc degeneration with disc space narrowing was observed in patients with elevated BMI. Compared with normal-weight individuals, there was a positive linear trend between BMI categories and the overall presence of disc degeneration (overweight odds ratio [OR], 1.30; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.03 to 1.62; obese OR, 1.79; 95 percent CI, 1.17 to 2.74). End-stage disc degeneration with disc space narrowing was significantly more likely in obese individuals (OR, 1.72; 95 percent CI, 1.23 to 2.41).

"In one of the largest studies to systematically assess lumbar disc degeneration on MRI, our study noted a significant association between the presence, increased extent, and global severity of disc degeneration in overweight and obese adults," the authors write.

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