Clinical Rheumatology

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 467–476

Body composition of rheumatoid arthritis patients in the City of Cape Town, South Africa

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10067-013-2414-0

Cite this article as:
Lombard, L.A., du Plessis, L.M. & Visser, J. Clin Rheumatol (2014) 33: 467. doi:10.1007/s10067-013-2414-0


Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) tend to have a poor nutritional status. This study aimed to gather information on body composition in patients with RA in private and public health settings in the City of Cape Town, South Africa (SA). This cross-sectional study evaluated adults with RA. Information on demographics, comorbidities and medication was gathered. Anthropometrical measurements included weight, height, waist circumference and skinfolds and were used to calculate, interpret and classify body mass index (BMI), percentage body fat, waist circumference, fat mass index (FMI) and fat-free mass index (FFMI). Ethics approval for the execution of the study was obtained from the Health Research Ethics Committee of Stellenbosch University. The study included 251 participants [mean age, 54.7 years; ±standard deviation (SD) 13.6]. The mean BMI was 30.3 kg/m2 (±SD 6.7) and 26.6 kg/m2 (±SD 6.1) for women and men, respectively. BMI was used to classify obesity (45.9 %), overweight (26.8 %), normal weight (25.6 %) and underweight (1.6 %). Waist circumference classifications showed a substantially increased risk for metabolic complications in 127 participants (51.8 %) and an increased risk in 52 participants (21.2 %). Low fat-free mass (FFMI of <10th percentile) was seen in 24 participants (21 %), and obesity (FMI of >90th percentile) was seen in 31 (27 %). Rheumatoid cachexia was identified in 12 participants (10.3 %). Results indicate suboptimal nutritional status in patients with RA in the current setting. It highlights the importance of involving dietitians in the management of RA, with a view to reduce symptoms, improve quality of life, prevent cardiovascular disease and decrease overall medical costs.


AnthropometryBody compositionNutritional statusObesityRheumatoid arthritisRheumatoid cachexia

Copyright information

© Clinical Rheumatology 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. A. Lombard
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • L. M. du Plessis
    • 1
  • J. Visser
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Medicine and Health SciencesStellenbosch UniversityTygerbergSouth Africa
  2. 2.EvideraLondonUK
  3. 3.EvideraLondonUK