Beyond skin deep

If you don’t have psoriasis, count yourself lucky. The painful, itchy, flaking skin that accompanies even mild cases make it one of the more maddening chronic diagnoses you can deal with.

And the fact that it’s notoriously tough to treat doesn’t help.

But that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. Psoriasis is an immune-mediated, inflammatory skin disease. So while obesity absolutely makes it worse, new research shows that losing weight may help to reverse it.

Danish researchers assigned a small group of 30 overweight and obese psoriasis sufferers to follow a calorie-restricted weight loss diet for four months. Meanwhile, another group of 30 maintained ordinary eating habits.

By study’s end, subjects in the dieting group had lost roughly 35 pounds, while the non-dieting group lost only one. But that wasn’t the only big difference between the two.

During this study period, the dieters also saw much larger improvements–nearing fifty percent, in fact–in both psoriasis cover and severity. They also reported greater boosts to quality of life.

Non-dieters, however, only experienced slight drops–we’re talking a few measly percentages of a point–in psoriasis severity scores.

Is this surprising? Not one bit. Truthfully, there aren’t many health problems that can’t be significantly improved by shedding a few pounds.

That’s precisely why weight loss such a huge focus of my work. The amount of suffering–not to mention spending–that could be avoided if we simply tackled this country’s obesity problem is staggering.

It’s just a shame more people aren’t addressing this issue with the urgency it so clearly deserves.

Effect of weight loss on the severity of psoriasis: a randomized clinical study. JAMA Dermatol. 2013;():1-7. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.722.