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OBJECTIVES: Early-onset osteoarthritis (OA) is an emerging health issue amidst the escalating prevalence of overweight and obesity. However, there are scant data on its disease, economic burden and attributable burden due to high body mass index (BMI). METHODS: Using data from the Global Burden of Diseases Study 2019, we examined the numbers of incident cases, prevalent cases, years lived with disability (YLDs) and corresponding age-standardised rates for early-onset OA (diagnosis before age 55) from 1990 to 2019. The case definition was symptomatic and radiographically confirmed OA in any joint. The average annual percentage changes (AAPCs) of the age-standardised rates were calculated to quantify changes. We estimated the economic burden of early-onset OA and attributable burden to high BMI. RESULTS: From 1990 to 2019, the global incident cases, prevalent cases and YLDs of early-onset OA were doubled. 52.31% of incident OA cases in 2019 were under 55 years. The age-standardised rates of incidence, prevalence and YLDs increased globally and for countries in all Sociodemographic Index (SDI) quintiles (all AAPCs>0, p<0.05), with the fastest increases in low-middle SDI countries. 98.04% of countries exhibited increasing trends in all age-standardised rates. Early-onset OA accounts for US$46.17 billion in healthcare expenditure and US$60.70 billion in productivity loss cost in 2019. The attributable proportion of high BMI for early-onset OA increased globally from 9.41% (1990) to 15.29% (2019). CONCLUSIONS: Early-onset OA is a developing global health problem, causing substantial economic costs in most countries. Targeted implementation of cost-effective policies and preventive intervention is required to address the growing health challenge.

Original publication




Journal article


Ann rheum dis

Publication Date



Epidemiology, Health services research, Osteoarthritis