In the United States, approximately 1 in 3 adults with prediabetes has arthritis, a study published online November 9 in  Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report suggests. And, among those with both conditions, at least half are physically inactive and/or have obesity, which further increases their risk for type 2 diabetes

"Health care and public health professionals can address arthritis-specific barriers to physical activity by promoting evidence-based physical activity interventions. Also, weight loss and physical activity through the National Diabetes Prevention Program can reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes and reduce pain from arthritis, "write Michelle Sandoval-Rosario, MPH, from the Division of Population Health, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, and colleagues.

An estimated 54 million American adults have arthritis, and approximately 84 million US adults have prediabetes. However, the prevalence of arthritis among adults with prediabetes is unknown.

Physical inactivity and obesity

To understand how these conditions are related, and how they correlate with physical inactivity and obesity, Sandoval-Rosario and colleagues analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) from 2009 to 2016. The data include information from 10,179 adults aged 20 years and older with a fasting plasma glucose measurement and complete arthritis data.

Among adults with prediabetes, the annualized prevalence of arthritis was 32.0% (95% confidence interval [CI], 29.7 – 34.5), or an estimated 26 million people. Similarly, the annualized prevalence of arthritis among adults with diabetes was 42.0% (CI, 38.1-45.9), or an estimated 13 million people.

Additionally, the authors found that the prevalence of arthritis was not significantly different between adults with prediabetes (25.9% CI, 24.0% -27.9%) and those with diabetes (30.2% CI,  26.5-34.2P = .09). However, its prevalence was significantly greater among adults with prediabetes than among those without prediabetes or diabetes (21.9% CI, 20.1% – 23.9%,  P  = .03).

According to the researchers, the prevalence rates of leisure-time physical inactivity and obesity among individuals with both prediabetes and arthritis were 56.5% (CI, 51.3 – 61.5) and 50.1% (CI, 46.5 – 53.6), respectively.

The results of this study emphasize the need for clinicians to check for prediabetes among their patients with arthritis. Dr. Sandoval-Rosario and colleagues stress that clinicians can also highlight evidence-based arthritis interventions for these individuals to help them overcome arthritis-related barriers to physical activity.

"Furthermore, it is possible to reduce the risk for developing type 2 diabetes among adults with arthritis and to assist them with their pain from arthritis," they conclude.