Bigger is Badder in AS

Obese ankylosing spondylitis patients may have poorer perceptions on the benefits of exercise

(RxWiki News) Ankylosing spondylitis on its own is enough to keep patients from living a normal, active life. Add obesity to the mix and the picture may get worse.

Overweight and obese patients with ankylosing spondylitis may have worse function and more disease activity than patients with a normal weight, according to recent research.

In addition, these overweight patients may not understand how exercise is good for their condition.

"Exercise often to improve your health. "

Laura Durcan, MB, BCh, BAO, of St. James's Hospital in Ireland, and colleagues set out to study rates of obesity in people with ankylosing spondylitis and to examine the attitudes of patients toward exercise - an activity that is key to the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis.

The researchers also looked at how obesity affects symptoms and disease activity of ankylosing spondylitis.

They found that the majority of patients in their study were overweight.

Compared to normal weight patients, overweight patients had:

  • worse symptoms
  • worse views about the benefits of exercise
  • greater awareness about their barriers to exercise

"This is of particular concern in a disease where exercise plays a crucial role," the authors said.

For their study, Durcan and colleagues collected information on 46 patients with ankylosing spondylitis.

To measure patients views on exercise, the researchers used the Exercise Benefits and Barriers Scale (EBBS) - a grading system from 43 to 172 in which a higher score means a more positive view on exercise.

While overweight patients scored 124.7 on the EBBS, normal weight patients scored 136.6.

To measure patients' level of function, the researchers used the Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Functional Index (BASFI) and the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ). On the BASFI and HAQ, a higher score means more disability or less function.

The BASFI score for overweight patients was 4.7 versus 2.5 in normal weight patients.

The HAQ score for overweight patients was 4.8 versus 2.9 in normal weight patients.

To measure disease activity, the researchers used the Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI). A higher score on the BASDAI means more disease activity.

Overweight patients had a BASDAI score of 4.8, compared to 2.9 in normal weight patients.

Due to the small size of this study, more research is needed to see if the findings apply to larger groups of patients with ankylosing spondylitis.

The study was published October 15 in The Journal of Rheumatology

Review Date: 
October 22, 2012