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Psoriasis: does obesity play a role?

More than 600,000 Australians live with psoriasis — an inflammatory skin disorder characterised by red, flakey skin — according to new data from the Medbank Better Health Index. While it’s not entirely clear what brings psoriasis on, it’s believed to be influenced by numerous factors, including genetics, environmental factors, and the immune system.

Interestingly, data from the latest Index suggests that psoriasis may also be more prominent amongst those who are obese.

The connection between psoriasis and obesity

While an association between obesity and psoriasis has been clearly observed, scientists are yet to determine the exact nature of the relationship and which comes first — does obesity cause psoriasis, or is it the other way around

Exploring this correlation further, a recent study among adult twins in Denmark found there was not only an association between psoriasis and obesity, but with type 2 diabetes as well. These findings hint that genetics could play a role, along with certain lifestyle factors such as lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking, alcohol consumption and stress.


Are children with obesity also affected?

Research is also finding this link prominent in children as well. Just last year, an Australian study of 208 kids aged 5-16 years — 135 of which had psoriasis, while the remaining 73 suffered from other non-inflammatory skin conditions — found that those with psoriasis were far more likely to have an elevated waist-to-height ratio (WtHR).

Likewise, research by the Northwestern University School of Medicine saw similar results amongst kids. The study found that of those with severe psoriasis, more than a third (34%) fell into the ‘obese’ BMI category.

While these studies provide interesting insights, more research needs to be carried out to determine the exact relationship between the two conditions.

If you suffer from psoriasis and/or obesity, make sure you speak to your GP about your symptoms. Your doctor will be able to provide the appropriate treatment to suit your individual needs.

Read about the state of chronic health conditions in Australia.

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