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OBJECTIVES: To examine the effect of height, weight and body mass index (BMI) on the risk of hip and knee replacement in middle-aged women. METHODS: In a prospective cohort study 490 532 women aged 50-69 yrs who were recruited in the UK in 1996-2001 were followed over 2.9 yrs for incident primary hip and knee replacements. RESULTS: Height, weight and BMI were all associated with the risk of hip and knee replacement. Comparing the tallest group (>or=170 cm) with the shortest (<155 cm) the relative risks were 1.90 (95%CI 1.55-2.32) for hip replacement and 1.55 (95%CI 1.19-2.00) for knee replacement. Comparing the heaviest group (>or=75 kg) with the lightest (<60 kg) the relative risks of hip and knee replacement were 2.37 (95%CI 2.04-2.75) and 9.71 (95%CI 7.39-12.77), respectively. Comparing obese women (BMI >or= 30 kg/m(2)) to women with a BMI < 22.5 kg/m(2), the relative risks for hip and knee replacement were 2.47 (95%CI 2.11-2.89) and 10.51 (95%CI 7.85-14.08), respectively. These effects did not vary according to age, education, alcohol and tobacco consumption, or with use of hormonal therapies. Currently, an estimated 27% of hip replacements and 69% of knee replacements in middle-aged women in the UK are attributable to obesity. CONCLUSION: In middle-aged women, the risk of having a hip or knee replacement increases with both increasing height and increasing BMI. From a clinical perspective, relatively small increases in average BMI among middle-aged women are likely to have a substantial impact on the already increasing rates of joint replacement in the UK.

Original publication




Journal article


Rheumatology (Oxford)

Publication Date





861 - 867


Age Distribution, Anthropometry, Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip, Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee, Body Constitution, Body Height, Body Mass Index, Body Weight, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Middle Aged, Obesity, Osteoarthritis, Hip, Osteoarthritis, Knee, Risk Factors, Social Class, United Kingdom