Various uncontrolled studies performed worldwide have suggested that obesity and psoriasis (and psoriasis arthritis) don’t make a good combination. Psoriasis and obesity have inflammation in common. Inflammation is the root of all health problems and obesity increases inflammation. Obese people, carrying extra body fat are prone to inflammatory disorders, including psoriasis and psoriasis arthritis. It doesn’t mean that obesity is a definite cause for psoriasis, but, obesity can be one of the reasons. Also, it is difficult to manage psoriasis in obese people than in normal weight people.
In our World Psoriasis Day Get Together event, various participants revealed that improving their physical fitness by maintaining a healthy body weight has helped them tremendously.
Studies, surveys and their conclusions
Numerous studies have been done to extract some relation between obesity and psoriasis. Unfortunately, till now, there is no concrete analytic evidence to establish a definite relation between these two health conditions. But, almost all these research does suggest that if you have psoriasis, do stay away from obesity.
- A survey conducted in University Medical Center, Hamburg, Germany, comprising 1265 patients (57% male and 43% female; mean age 52 years) shows that the BMI (body-mass index) of people having psoriasis was 28 while for normal weight people, it is 26. Higher the BMI, higher is the obesity.
- A study done by Dr Peter and his team at Copenhagen University, Denmark suggests that losing weight can ease psoriasis and improve quality of life for obese people. They selected 60 people having mild to moderate psoriasis. 30 people among them were asked to follow a 4 month weight loss diet while remaining 30 stick to normal diet guidelines. After 4 months, the group with weight loss instructions lost almost 35 pounds of weight per individual while for the other group, it was 1 pound per individual. The psoriasis severity score (in terms of body coverage by psoriasis scales) for the first group reduces from 4.8 to 2.5, on a scale of 0 to 72. For the other group, it was just a slight drop from 5.5 to 5.2.
- One article published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology suggests that most of the people having psoriasis do consume more of saturated fats, total fats and alcohol than others and hence they are more prone to obesity and psoriasis. Reversing the food habits along with regular physical workout can ease the symptoms.
- A study conducted at Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, USA suggests- on average, people having psoriasis are 7-10% heavier than people without psoriasis.
Obesity and Psoriasis among Children
If you are a parent having psoriasis, then you have to be extra cautious to keep your kid away from obesity. One solid reason is already here- the genes- making your kid more prone to get psoriasis. Now, if obesity also exists, then the chances multi-folds.
- A study conducted at Kaiser Permanente South California, USA, comprising 710,949 children of various age groups and race suggests that- chances of developing psoriasis is almost 40 percent higher in obese children than normal weight children. This figure is as high as 80 percent in extremely obese children.
- According to an case study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, Oct 2011- overweight, moderately obese, and extremely obese children are at 31%, 39% and 78% increased risk of having psoriasis than normal weight children.
- A study performed at Northwestern University School of Medicine, Chicago, USA, comprising 409 children having psoriasis from 9 different countries suggests that- almost 40% of the kids were overweight. Among children from USA having severe psoriasis, nearly 34% of them had a BMI in the category of obese.
What is Obesity
A person having excessive weight than normal standards would be considered obese (over weight). Age, sex and height are deciding factors to calculate the normal standards.
Generally, a person would be labeled as obese on the basis of physical appearance. But for precise quantitative analysis, there is a term- Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI considers a person’s weight and height to calculate if a person is obese or not.
BMI = Weight (Kg) / Height squared (Meters)
|< 18.5||Under Weight|
|18.5 - 24.9||Normal|
|25 - 29.9||Over Weight|
Although BMI gives a close to accurate idea of body fat. But sometimes BMI can give misleading conclusions too. For instance, a muscular athlete can have a BMI above 30 without having any excessive fat. Hence, BMI as well as physical appearance of a person, both should be considered together before labeling a person as obese.
Causes of Obesity
Obesity makes a person susceptible to various health concerns. To name a few- heart related diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, gout and off course psoriasis.
Few major most common causes of obesity are:
- Genetics (family history)
- Unhealthy diet (diet rich in saturated fats and oils which is high in calories)
- Irregular food habits (over eating)
- Caloric imbalance when you consume more calories and burn (process) less.
- Poor gut health and slow, sluggish body metabolism
- Unhealthy life style (sedentary lifestyle with very less physical activity; excessive consumption of alcohol and tobacco)
- Psychological issues (stress, tension, depression)
It is interesting to note that all the factors that can cause obesity are culprits for psoriasis also.
The last factor is very interesting here- stress. It is scientifically proven that under the attack of stress, a person is more attracted to junk foods, especially foods rich in sugar. Have you ever noticed that on a bad day, with a lot of negative experiences, you barely care for your healthy diet regimen and end up eating a lot of unhealthy junk foods throughout the day with some shots of alcohol and tobacco (smoking) also?
Stress causes inflammation, disrupts your hormonal balance, makes your body acidic and encourages unhealthy your food habits; stress – hence, stress is a definite trigger for psoriasis. We all know it and now, the belief is more affirm.
Psoriasis and Obesity
Obesity, psoriasis and psoriasis arthritis- all these health conditions have one thing in common- Inflammation. Inflammation is necessary and it is your body’s natural response to any injury or infection. But, the problem arises when it becomes chronic. Accumulated body fats increase the intensity of inflammation.
Obesity and Psoriasis- A vicious circle
Psoriasis is a complex skin disorder and very frustrating also. A lot of times, psoriasis symptoms may flare up and you have clueless that why it is happening. People’s negative reactions and over consciousness about one’s physical appearance- it can hamper personal and professional life up to a significant extent.
Under the influence of these unfortunate events, a person can take shelter under the unhealthy tree of bad lifestyle- too much consumption of alcohol and tobacco, unhealthy foods and beverages like junk foods, carbonated drinks and soda.
All this will eventually end up increasing the intensity of psoriasis and making the person obese (over weight).
How weight loss helps in Psoriasis
A 20-weeks clinical study involving 303 overweight people with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis concluded that regular exercise along with dietary measures to reduce obesity helped relieve psoriasis symptoms as well- The British Journal of Dermatology, Mar 2014.
Let us understand that how weight loss remedies can help with psoriasis:
- Reduced inflammation– When you lose weight by getting rid of accumulated excessive fat, you reduce inflammation and hence, relieve psoriasis symptoms.
- Improved body metabolism– Apart from reducing inflammation, cutting down on calories intake would put less burden on your body metabolism which is already impaired and sluggish. An inefficient digestive tract, impaired liver and high level of body toxins- all these factors continue to anger your psoriasis. When you eat foods which are easy to process for body metabolism, you psoriasis gets calm.
- Reduced level of body toxins– Increased level of toxins resulting in leaky gut syndrome is one of the biggest culprits to trigger an autoimmune disorder like psoriasis. Weight loss remedies help in significant reduction in accumulated body toxins along with the excessive body fat.
- Less stress– Healthy foods, low in calories and saturated fats make you feel light and energetic. It gives positive vibes to your body and mind making you optimistic.
Weight loss remedies
Various weight loss remedies to get rid of obesity are:
- Healthy diet– Diet is the most important factor to curb obesity as well as psoriasis. Avoid junk foods which are rich in saturated fats, oils, sugar and salt. Eat a lot of green vegetables and fresh fruits. Avoid allergy causing complex foods like wheat gluten, dairy and red meat.
Read more: Alkaline diet for Psoriasis
- Regular exercise– Regular physical workout can be a game changer here. Brisk walk, jogging, joining a healthy gym, dance classes, swimming, stairs climbing- a variety of options to choose from. For kids, outdoor games are also a good option. Regular exercise burns calories and improves body metabolism.
- Yoga – Yoga techniques can also help in weight loss. For people with psoriasis arthritis, yoga is a good alternative if physical workout is painful for them.
Psoriasis and obesity have inflammation in common. Obesity can be one of the many reasons for psoriasis development. If you have psoriasis, then losing some weight can relieve psoriasis symptoms and improve the quality of your life. If you are a parent having psoriasis, avoid obesity in your kids because overweight kids are more susceptible to psoriasis. A healthy diet along with healthy lifestyle practices like workout and yoga can help you lose weight, reduce inflammation and hence, heal psoriasis.