What is gout? And why our 'Western diet' puts us at risk

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
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A "Western diet" is associated with a higher risk of gout, a new study has found.

Researchers discovered that people are more likely to have the painful condition if they indulge in a so-called "Western diet", which includes a higher intake of red and processed meats, soft drinks, French fries, sugar, sweets and desserts.

Meanwhile, people whose diet is rich in fruit, vegetables and whole grains have a lower risk of gout, according to the study published in The BMJ.

Gout, a type of arthritis where small crystals form around the joints, affects one to two of every 100 people in the UK.

Experts from the US and Canada analysed data on more than 44,000 men aged 40 to 75 with no previous history of gout.

During 26 years of follow-up, the men completed detailed food questionnaires every four years.

They were given scores based on their dietary styles and how much they adhered to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet - which has been designed to reduce blood pressure and includes high intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, such as peas, beans and lentils, low-fat dairy products and whole grains, and low intake of salt, sweetened beverages, and red and processed meats - and Western diets.

Overall, 1,731 men developed gout during the follow-up period.

The researchers found a higher DASH score was associated with a lower risk for gout, while a higher score for a Western diet was associated with an increased risk for gout.

"The DASH diet may provide an attractive preventive dietary approach for men at risk of gout," the authors concluded.