Western diet linked to inducing gout

12 May 2017

New research has found that tucking into a Western diet can increase your risk of gout.

Look away now if your favourite meal is steak and chips!

Gout is a painful type of arthritis in which small crystals form inside and around the joints. It causes sudden attacks of severe pain and swelling, and it’s estimated that between one and two in every 100 people in the U.K. are affected by the ailment.

Top of the list of gout-inducing foods is red and processed meat, followed by French fries, soft drinks and sugar.

To get their results, researchers from Harvard Medical School, led by Dr Hyon Choi, analysed the records of over 40,000 men aged 40 to 75 who had never been diagnosed with gout.

Detailed food questionnaires were filled out and the participants were all given a Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) score based on how much fruit, vegetables and wholegrains the participants consumed. They were also assigned a Western pattern score, based on how much red and processed meat, French fries, refined grains, sweets and desserts they had in their diet.

Read more: Scientists compare Western diet to drugs

The group were then tracked for 26 years, with 1,731 of the men diagnosed with gout over that period.

When diets were compared it was found that the participants who ate the most fruit, veg and wholegrains were 32 percent less likely to be diagnosed with gout. Those who tucked into a Western diet had a higher risk of developing the painful condition.

While authors point out the findings of the study are not conclusive, they do say that a DASH diet “may provide an attractive preventive dietary approach for the risk of gout" as it also treats high blood pressure, which affects the vast majority of gout patients, so the eating plan has the potential to "kill two birds with one stone”.

Results have been published in The BMJ.

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