National Arthritis Awareness Month — May 2018

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May is National Arthritis Awareness Month. In the United States, 54 million adults have some form of doctor-diagnosed arthritis (1), a number projected to increase to 78 million by 2040.* Approximately two thirds of adults with arthritis have overweight or obesity (1), and only 36% meet the recommended aerobic physical activity guidelines.

Engaging in physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage arthritis symptoms.§ Physical activity can reduce arthritis pain, improve function and mood, and delay the onset of disability. Even small amounts of weight loss have been shown to significantly reduce pressure on the joints. Adults who have overweight or obesity and receive weight-loss counseling from a health care provider are approximately four times more likely to attempt to lose weight than are those who do not receive counseling (2). Health care providers can play a valuable role by counseling their patients with arthritis to be physically active, lose weight if they have overweight or obesity, and get self-management education (2,3). A report in this issue found that the percentage of health care providers counseling arthritis patients about weight loss increased significantly from 2002 to 2014 (3).


  1. Barbour KE, Helmick CG, Boring M, Brady TJ. Vital signs: prevalence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation—United States, 2013–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:246–53. CrossRef PubMed
  2. Rose SA, Poynter PS, Anderson JW, Noar SM, Conigliaro J. Physician weight loss advice and patient weight loss behavior change: a literature review and meta-analysis of survey data. Int J Obes 2013;37:118–28. CrossRef PubMed
  3. Guglielmo D, Hootman JM, Murphy LB, et al. Health care provider counseling for weight loss among adults with arthritis and overweight or obesity—United States, 2002–2014. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2014;2018:485–90.

Suggested citation for this article: National Arthritis Awareness Month — May 2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:485. DOI:

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