Opioids linked to obesity in the United States

Opioids linked to obesity in the United States

There is a link between the use of prescription opioids and obesity in the United States, according to two Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) studies.

Researchers discovered people with higher body mass indices (BMIs) were up to 158 percent more likely to have used prescription opioids long-term. They also found 27 percent of long-term opioid prescriptions were attributable to higher BMIs.

People with BMIs considered “overweight” had a 24 percent increased likelihood of having used opioids long-term while those with BMIs in the “obese III” range had a 158 percent increased likelihood.

Opioids are most commonly prescribed for joint pain, back pain, injury, and muscle/nerve pain.

Researchers studied opioid use from 2000 to 2015 and used data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. The survey, of 89,629 adults between the ages of 30 and 84 years old, studied people who had been prescribed opioids before the survey.

In the second study, researchers used anonymized data for 2016 from 565,930 patients between 34 and 64 years old who had a BMI measurement recorded during that year. Researchers identified pain diagnoses and opioid prescriptions for the year before or after the BMI measurement.

After adjusting for various factors, the researchers discovered BMIs considered “overweight” or “obese” were more likely in patients prescribed opioids.