BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders BMC series 2016 17:233

Addressing obesity in the management of knee and hip osteoarthritis – weighing in from an economic perspective

Anna Flego, Michelle M. Dowsey, Peter F. M. Choong & Marj Moodie
Hip Knee


Obesity is one of the only modifiable risk factors for both incidence and progression of Osteoarthritis (OA). So there is increasing interest from a public health perspective in addressing obesity in the management of OA. While evidence of the efficacy of intereventions designed to address obesity in OA populations continues to grow, little is known about their economic credentials.

The aim of this study is to conduct a scoping review of: (i) the published economic evidence assessing the economic impact of obesity in OA populations; (ii) economic evaluations of interventions designed to explicitly address obesity in the prevention and management of OA in order to determine which represent value for money. Besides describing the current state of the literature, the study highlights research gaps and identifies future research priorities.


In July 2014, a search of the peer reviewed literature, published in English, was undertaken for the period January 1975 – July 2014 using Medline Complete (Ebscohost), Embase, Econlit, Global Health, Health Economics Evaluation Database (HEED), all Cochrane Library databases as well as the grey literature using Google and reference lists of relevant studies. A combination of key search terms was used to identify papers assessing the economic impact of obesity in OA or economic evaluations conducted to assess the efficiency of obesity interventions for the prevention or management of OA.


14 studes were identified; 13 were cost burden studies assessing the impact of obesity as a predictor for higher costs in Total Joint Arthroplasty (TJA) patients and one a cost-effectiveness study of an intervention designed to address obesity in the managment of mild to moderate OA patients.


The majority of the economic studies conducted are cost burden studies. While there is some evidence of the association between severe obesity and excess hospital costs for TJA patients, heterogeneity in studies precludes definitive statements about the strength of the association. With only one economic evaluation to inform policy and practice, there is a need for future research into the cost-effectiveness of obesity interventions designed both for prevention or management of OA along the disease spectrum and over the life course.

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