Released by the Medibank Better Health Foundation in line with Arthritis Awareness Week, new data has found the incidence of osteoarthritis has skyrocketed since 2007

The number of Aussies living with osteoarthritis has increased from 6.2% to 8.5% over the last nine years

Osteoarthritis is one of Australia’s leading health concerns. And according to the latest data from the Medibank Better Health Index, the number of Aussies living with osteoarthritis has increased from 6.2% to 8.5% over the last nine years, equal to more than half a million (604,000). Keep reading to find out what the condition’s common causes are, and tips for preventing and managing it.

Could obesity be playing a role?

The findings -- released by the Medibank Better Health Foundation in line with Arthritis Awareness Week -- show the incidence of the condition has grown in line with the national trend towards obesity. The data found 28.4% of Australians now fall into the ‘obese’ Body Mass Index (BMI) category, compared to just 25.2% in 2007. Worryingly, this figure is even higher for those with osteoarthritis, with 42.7% sufferers now considered ‘obese’, up from 39.4% in 2007.

Commenting on the rise, Medibank Chief Medical Officer Dr Linda Swan said:

“It’s concerning to see that the incidence of osteoarthritis is continuing to climb year-on-year, with almost one in ten Aussies now living with the condition. We know osteoarthritis can be exacerbated by being overweight or obese, so it’s essential that we continue to encourage healthy eating habits and regular exercise as these can help both prevent and improve osteoarthritis symptoms. While generally any type of activity is good, people's health risks can vary, so consulting your GP about the type of exercise that's right for you is always a wise step."

Tips for preventing and managing osteoarthritis

If you’re feeling joint or muscle pain, speak to your GP immediately, and for more information on the research the Medibank Better Health Foundation is conducting into the condition, head here