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A low-calorie diet — regardless of the weight loss it results in — may help control joint disease activity in patients with psoriatic arthritis, according to new research.  

In a study published in Advances in Rheumatology, researchers enrolled 97 psoriatic arthritis patients in a 12-week trial. The participants were randomized into three groups: 

  • One group on a low-calorie diet that took placebo supplementation 
  • One group on a low-calorie diet that took 3 grams per day of omega-3 supplementation
  • One control group with a habitual diet 

The researchers evaluated food intake, body composition, and disease activity at baseline and after the 12-week intervention. The findings: Disease activity scores improved, especially in the diet-placebo group. There was no significant correlation between weight loss and improvement in disease activity in this particular study. However, each 100-calorie daily intake increase caused a 3.4 fold in DAS28-ESR impairment, a measure of disease activity.  

Since no changes in medications or physical activity were made during the study, the results reinforce the role of diet in the context of immunometabolism (the interplay between immunology and metabolism). The authors suggest supervised exercise could contribute to weight loss, lean muscle mass, and better disease activity control. 

The omega-3 supplementation group showed significant weight loss, along with waist circumference and body fat reductions, but not improved disease activity. “The addition of omega-3 supplementation did not improve disease activity or inflammatory parameters but promoted relevant body composition changes that can be modulated by indirect pathways of disease activity,” note the researchers.  

Earlier research has shown that losing weight can improve psoriatic arthritis symptoms. Some experts believe that inflammation and oxidative stress could be a potential link between obesity and rheumatic diseases.  

“Weight loss should be considered an important approach for managing patients with PsA, although we did not observe a relationship between weight loss and disease activity, as previously reported,” note the researchers of the new study. “Dietary counseling aimed at losing or controlling weight could be part of the global protocol for PsA patients.” 

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Leite BF, et al. Dietetic intervention in psoriatic arthritis: the DIETA trial. Advances in Rheumatology. April 6, 2022. doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/s42358-022-00243-6.    

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