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Do metabolic factors add to the effect of overweight on hand osteoarthritis? The Rotterdam Study
  1. S Dahaghin1,
  2. S M A Bierma-Zeinstra1,
  3. B W Koes1,
  4. J M W Hazes3,
  5. H A P Pols2,4
  1. 1Department of General Practice, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Internal Medicine, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  3. 3Department of Rheumatology, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  4. 4Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr S Dahaghin
    Department of General Practice, Room Ff 325, Erasmus Medical Centre, University Medical Centre Rotterdam, PO Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands; sdahaghin{at}


Background: As hand joints are non-weight bearing, the association between overweight and hand osteoarthritis (HOA) is critical to understanding how overweight may associate with osteoarthritis (OA) apart from axial load. Overweight might be associated with the occurrence of OA through other metabolic factors.

Aim: To evaluate the role of overweight in HOA, cross-sectional data of a population-based study were used (⩾55 years, n = 3585). The role of diabetes, hypertension and total cholesterol:high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol ratio on HOA, and whether they play an intermediate role in the association of overweight/HOA was investigated. Furthermore, the prevalence of HOA in the concurrent presence of overweight and other metabolic factors was evaluated.

Results: Independently of other metabolic factors, overweight (body mass index (BMI) >27.4 kg/m2) showed a significant association with HOA (OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.2 to 1.7). The association between diabetes and HOA was only present in people aged 55–62 years (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.0 to 3.8), but was absent in the total population or in other age groups. The association of hypertension with HOA was weak, and disappeared after adjustment for BMI. The total/HDL cholesterol ratio showed no significant association with HOA. The concurrent presence of overweight, diabetes and hypertension resulted in an even higher prevalence of HOA (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.3 to 3.9) compared with subjects with none of these characteristics; this prevalence increased further in the younger age group (OR 3.2, 95% CI 1.1 to 8.8).

Conclusion: No intermediate effect of metabolic factors on the association of overweight with HOA was found. An increase in the prevalence of HOA, however, seems to be present when overweight occurs together with hypertension and diabetes especially at a relatively young age.

  • BMI, body mass index
  • CMC1/TS, first carpometacarpal and trapezioscaphoid
  • DIP, distal interphalangeal
  • HDL, high-density lipoprotein
  • HOA, hand osteoarthritis
  • IGF, insulin-like growth factor
  • K–L, Kellgren–Lawrence
  • MCP, metacarpophalangeal
  • OA, osteoarthritis
  • PIP, proximal interphalangeal

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  • Published Online First 21 February 2007

  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • SD has full access to all the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.