‘Obesity’ Trends Contribute to the Growing Need for Knee-Replacement Surgery and Hip-Replacement Surgery

surgeryWhen we attended the CCJR (Current Concepts in Joint Replacement) Winter meeting in Orlando in December, 2014, we met some great people and we also learned a lot from the orthopedic surgeons who presented educational sessions at the meeting. But the presentation given by surgeons from Canada really stuck in our minds. It was about obesity trends and how obesity is affecting the outcomes of surgeries all around the world. Obesity has increased the need for hip and knee replacement surgeries, and the numbers are staggering.

Since attending the CCJR Winter meeting, the topic of obesity has been on our minds so much, we decided to do some additional research and to share the information with you on our blog. Here’s what we found:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, 78.6 million people in the U.S. (34.9% of U.S. adults) are obese. Additionally, in all states in the U.S. the prevalence of obesity is above 20%.
  • “Obesity” is defined as having a BMI (“body mass index”) of 30 or higher, according to the CDC.
  • The Harvard School of Public Health website reports, “Excess weight harms health in many ways. It increases the risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, and some cancers, to name just a few, and reduces the life span. Treating obesity and obesity-related conditions costs billions of dollars a year.”
  • Additionally, medical costs associated with the obesity trend are expected to rise. The CDC says the estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 and the number has been growing ever since.
  • It’s not just the costs related to obesity that are concerning: The need for knee-replacement and hip-replacement surgery increases as the obesity trend continues to grow. But what’s most concerning is that the risks associated with the surgeries also increase when patients are obese. Surgeons say they’re sometimes uncomfortable performing knee-replacement or hip-replacement surgery on obese patients because of the risks.
  • A medical research study last year reported that total knee replacements in the U.S. more than tripled between 1993 and 2009, and hip replacements doubled during the same time. The study also said the increases paralleled the growing obesity trend in the U.S., with obese patients requiring the surgeries much more often than normal-weight patients.