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J Rheumatol. 2012 Dec;39(12):2310-4. doi: 10.3899/jrheum.120595. Epub 2012 Oct 15.

Increased body mass index in ankylosing spondylitis is associated with greater burden of symptoms and poor perceptions of the benefits of exercise.

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  • 1Department of Rheumatology, St. James's Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.



Increased body mass index (BMI) in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is associated with a greater burden of symptoms and poor perceptions of the benefits of exercise. In AS, the effect of obesity on disease characteristics and exercise perceptions is unknown. We evaluated the prevalence of obesity in AS, to assess the attitudes of patients toward exercise and to evaluate the effect of obesity on symptoms and disease activity.


Demographic data and disease characteristics were collected from 46 patients with AS. Disease activity, symptomatology, and functional disability were examined using standard AS questionnaires. BMI was calculated. Comorbidity was analyzed using the Charlson Comorbidity Index. Patients' attitudes toward exercise were assessed using the Exercise Benefits and Barriers Scale (EBBS). We compared the disease characteristics, perceptions regarding exercise, and functional limitations in those who were overweight to those who had a normal BMI.


The mean BMI in the group was 27.4; 67.5% of subjects were overweight or obese. There was a statistically significant difference between those who were overweight and those with a normal BMI regarding their perceptions of exercise (EBBS 124.7 vs 136.6, respectively), functional limitation (Bath AS Functional Index 4.7 vs 2.5, Health Assessment Questionnaire 0.88 vs 0.26), and disease activity (Bath AS Disease Activity Index 4.8 vs 2.9). There was no difference between the groups in terms of their comorbid conditions or other demographic variables.


The majority of patients in this AS cohort were overweight. They had a greater burden of symptoms, worse perceptions regarding the benefits of exercise, and enhanced awareness of their barriers to exercising. This is of particular concern in a disease where exercise plays a crucial role.

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