The importance of maintaining a healthy weight


How can excess weight affect PsA?

Being overweight or obese is more common among people with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) compared to the general population. It is also a risk factor for developing psoriasis. Studies have shown there is a link between increasing body weight and severity of psoriasis. This link is true for both adults and children. Being overweight or obese is part of a collection of health issues, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol, known as the "metabolic syndrome". This syndrome increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The good news is that a drop in weight can improve both joint symptoms and psoriasis. It can also reduce your health risks from metabolic syndrome and help your medications to work better.


How is excess weight linked to PsA?

Research suggests that fatty tissue makes certain proteins that lead to inflammation. Ongoing inflammation can lead to the development of autoimmune diseases such as PsA. Being in the heavier weight range can also put pressure on your joints and tendons, particularly the hips, knees, ankles, and feet. This can lead to increased risk of injury and joint pain.

It is important to stay active to help maintain a healthy weight. This can be challenging for people with arthritis due to pain and stiffness. Pain and stiffness can make you less motivated to keep active, but not moving can make your symptoms worse.


Can excess weight interfere with your medication?

People with PsA who are overweight or obese tend not to respond as well to some of the medicines used to treat their disease. Weight loss has been shown to improve the effectiveness of these medicines, which in turn helps to reduce disease activity in PsA.


What can I do?

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. This can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of other health problems. Talk to your doctor or see the Australian Dietary Guidelines to learn about the amount and kinds of foods that we need to eat for health and wellbeing. You may also find it helpful to see a dietitian for advice that suits your individual needs.
  • Keep active. Regular exercise is good for arthritis and can help you maintain a healthy weight. Before you start to exercise ask your doctor and healthcare team to help you develop a suitable program. Choose an activity you enjoy and that is convenient for you to do.  Low-impact exercises such as walking or exercising in water, are usually most comfortable.
  • Limit foods that are high in saturated fat and salt.  This includes foods like biscuits, cakes, processed meats, burgers, pizza, fried foods, potato chips and savoury snacks.
  • Eat less sugar and sugary foods and drinks, such as soft drinks and energy drinks. Sugar can cause inflammation and increase cravings for more sugar.
  • Limit alcohol and sugary drinks.  These are high in calories but of little or no nutritional benefit.
  • Drink plenty of water. This will help to manage your appetite and weight and boost energy.
  • Always speak with your doctor before changing your diet or starting an exercise plan. Your doctor can help you develop a safe and effective weight loss strategy.

This resource has been developed based on the best available evidence. A full list of resources is available upon request.