Body mass index trend and variability in rheumatoid arthritis

Gregory J. Challener, Elena Myasoedova, Cynthia S. Crowson, Rachel E. Giblon, Elizabeth J. Atkinson, John M. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To characterize and compare trends in body mass index (BMI) and variability in BMI between subjects with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and matched non-RA subjects and to determine predictors of BMI trends and variability within RA subjects. Methods: This retrospective population-based cohort study included 1114 Olmsted County, Minnesota residents, 558 with incident RA (age ≥ 18 years, 1987 ACR criteria met in 1995–2009) and 556 non-RA subjects from the same underlying population with similar age, sex, and index calendar year. All subjects were followed until death, migration, or 12/31/2018. Generalized linear models with smoothing splines and random effects to account for multiple measurements per subject were used to examine trends in BMI measurements over time. Results: Mean BMI of patients with incident RA (28.8 kg/m2) was not significantly different from that of non-RA subjects (28.9 kg/m2). There was no significant difference in BMI trends over time between RA and non-RA cohorts, or between seropositive for rheumatoid factor (RF) and/or citrullinated antibody (CCP-antibody) and seronegative RA patients, or between male and female subjects. RA subjects were noted to have significantly higher BMI variability following diagnosis compared to non-RA subjects [difference in standard deviation between RA and non-RA subjects prior to index (p = 0.12), 0–5 years after index (p = 0.044), and 5–15 years after index (p = 0.013)]. Conclusion: The BMI trajectory of the RA population is not significantly different compared to that of the non-RA population, but patients with RA demonstrate higher variability in BMI following diagnosis compared to the non-RA population.Key Points• This study uniquely characterizes longitudinal trajectory in BMI measures and their variability in the RA population versus the non-RA population• This study suggests that RA patients have greater BMI variability compared to the non-RA population, which is highly relevant as BMI variability is increasingly understood as a cardiovascular risk factor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-355
Number of pages7
JournalClinical rheumatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • BMI variability
  • Body mass index
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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