Psoriasis, Obesity and Weight Loss
Psoriasis is a non-contagious skin disorder that causes red, often scaly patches on the skin. It is a life-long condition, and although no known cure exists, there are several treatments that may help prevent or alleviate psoriasis flare-ups. Weight loss diets, for example, have been proposed as a way to prevent and manage psoriasis symptoms. In this article, we take a look at studies that provide support for theories suggesting that weight loss regimens might help control psoriasis in overweight or obese people.
A Meta-Analysis Finds a Link Between Psoriasis and Obesity
In 2012, a group of scientists from the University of California Davis published a systematic review of cross-sectional and case-control studies that had evaluated obesity in conjunction with psoriasis in the past. The researchers found that psoriasis patients have >50% increased odds of being obese compared with the general population. What's more, people with more severe psoriasis appear to be more likely to be obese, compared with those with mild psoriasis. The researchers concluded that weight loss may have beneficial effects in obese people with psoriasis but added that future studies are needed to understand the mechanisms underlying the association between obesity and psoriasis and to determine the impact of systemic psoriasis medications on modifying obesity.
Weight Loss as a Treatment for Psoriasis
While the UC Davis meta-analysis established that psoriasis patients have increased odds of being obese compared with the general population, it did not directly evaluate the impact of weight loss in people with psoriasis. Eager to find out whether actual weight loss efforts could help reduce symptoms in people with psoriasis, another team of scientists decided to conduct a meta-analysis that specifically looked at the effect of weight reduction achieved through dietary modification or exercise on psoriasis severity in obese or overweight patients. Published in the August 2015 issue of the International Journal of Obesity, this systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found that there was a greater reduction in the PASI score in the psoriasis patients who were put on a weight loss regime, compared with the controls. PASI, which stands for Psoriasis Area Severity Index, is the most widely used tool for the measurement of severity and extent of psoriasis. The researchers concluded weight loss achieved through dietary modification or exercise was associated with reduction in the severity of psoriasis in overweight or obese patients.
1. A. Armstrong, C. Harskamp and E. Armstrong (2012). The association between psoriasis and obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Nutrition and Diabetes (2012), 2, e54.
2. S. Upala and A. Sanguankeo (2015). Effect of lifestyle weight loss intervention on disease severity in patients with psoriasis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Obesity, 39(8):1197-202.
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