Looking for a diet for gout?
Don't get obsessed with purines.
Other factors are important - particularly weight loss.
Gout has long been associated with weight gain, and many studies support this. I have often referred to Choi's study of over 40 thousand men. This study looked at men without gout at the start of the period, and assessed their medical condition after 12 years. The raw data has been analyzed in many different ways and spawned several reports. One report looks at Obesity, Weight Change, Hypertension, Diuretic Use, and Risk of Gout in Men. It is a statistical analysis of gout sufferers. Though some of the statistics confirm a risk factor for gout from hypertension and diuretics, the bulk of the report focuses on weight.
The authors analyzed the incidence of gout with respect to Body Mass Index. Before we look at the results, you need to understand what Body Mass Index (BMI) means.
Body Mass Index
BMI is a simple measure of classifying groups of people as underweight, normal, overweight, obese, or morbidly obese. It is easy to calculate - weight divided by height squared.
It's simplicity has led it to be overused. It is a mistake to interpret it as a yardstick for ideal weight. Bone structure and muscularity play a large part in determining a healthy weight, yet BMI takes no account of these or any other factors.
However, for statistical use it provides a good comparative measure. I also believe it gives a good starting point when assessing targets in diets for gout, but more of that later. Let us return to looking at the study results.
Gout And Weight Statistics
The results showed that overweight men were almost twice as likely to get gout as normal weight men. Men at the lower end of the obese scale were almost two and a half times more likely to get gout. Risks rose to an average of 3 times at the upper end of the obese scale.
Clearly, these are averages and an individual can be obese without getting gout, just as you can get gout without being overweight. The point is that statistically, the higher your BMI, the more chance you have of getting gout. Significantly, the study also reported a much reduced chance of getting gout where men had lost 10 lb since the age of 21 compared to those who had gained
30 lb or more.
These findings support an earlier, much smaller, study looking at the effects of a specific diet for gout to reduce weight. Beneficial effects of weight loss associated with moderate calorie/carbohydrate restriction, and increased proportional intake of protein and unsaturated fat on serum urate and lipoprotein levels in gout: a pilot study shows how weight loss over a 12 week period leads to improved uric acid levels and reduced gout flares.
To me, these studies represent a compelling argument for considering weight loss as a method for controlling gout. That is not to say that it is the only solution, or that it is right for everyone. In fact, for most people, it should be part of a package that manages weight with lifestyle improvements and suitable medication.
OK, it's time for some numbers. You need to know your BMI number.
If you use the metric system it's easy to calculate.
For others the calculation is slightly harder
One way is to use a BMI Calculator, or use the simple tables below.
You need to know your weight in pounds. If you use stones and pounds, first look up the equivalent pounds value in the second table.
Look down the first table for the line representing your height. Read across the line to determine your BMI category. If you are above normal weight this is an indication that losing weight may help your gout. The more overweight you are, the more likely you are to benefit from losing weight.
|Height||Normal||Over- weight||Obese||Morbidly Obese|
Stones / Pounds Table
Using BMI In A Diet For Gout
Please note that the BMI table only gives indications. If you are particularly athletic, your "normal" weight will be higher. If your mobility is severely restricted, your "normal" weight will be lower. The table gives a ball park category that gives you an idea of how losing weight might help you. It does not mean you need to lose X pounds.
Do not get bogged down in absolute numbers. If you think you will benefit from losing weight, then my Gout Food To Avoid guidelines will help you. Do not dwell on target weights - we will simply focus on losing a pound or two a week.
Find more (see gouty search hints).