Obesity treatment may help stave off osteoarthritis, as an expert has predicted high numbers of people being overweight is likely to contribute to increased incidences of the joint disease.

Neil Betteridge, chief executive of Arthritis Care, explained osteoarthritis is not restricted to older people.

Since it is degenerative the disease is typically associated with age, but he noted people who play high-intensity sports can also be affected as there is a propensity for joints and bones to wear down.

And with cases of obesity rising, Mr Betteridge warned: "Carrying all that weight projects the pressure onto joints, so therefore we are likely to see an epidemic of osteoarthritis affecting younger people in the next generation."

He was commenting following a Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute study that identified a new gene associated with the disease - a discovery that could help in the development of new treatments and improve doctors' understanding.

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