More and more Taiwanese youngsters are being diagnosed with gout caused by consuming too many sugary drinks, the Country Hospital’s Arthritis Treatment Center head Chen Chih-yang (陳峙仰) said yesterday, citing Academia Sinica research results.
Chen said the hospital recently admitted an eight-year-old boy who eats two big bowls of braised pork rice (滷肉飯) at both lunch and dinner every day, while another elementary-school boy daily consumed 0.5 liters of drinks with a high sugar content.
Both of the patients had bloated ankles and difficulty moving, Chen said, adding that after examination they were diagnosed with gout, a condition which also plagues their fathers.
Chen made the remarks at a Chunghua Medical Society seminar.
Saying he has compiled a database of nearly 40,000 patients since the 1980s, Chen added that he observed a three-fold increase in patients from a decade ago. A decade ago, 10 percent of all patients were found to have monosodium urate in their joints, but that figure has risen to about 30 percent of patients currently.
Ninety percent of the patients are male, Chen said, adding that there was a possibility that gout develops because of some sort of genetic locus that interferes with a person’s kidney metabolism.
However, it has not yet been discovered which genetic locus is responsible for the potential problem, he added.
Gout patients in Taiwan have also failed to keep their conditions under control, Chen said.
Chen said that to prevent gout, foods rich in purine and high in cholesterol and sugar should be avoided, adding that the human body’s metabolism of food with a high sugar content generates purine.
The body tends to produce uric acid when it has a high amount of fat cells, he said, adding that people with diets high in cholesterol and those who are obese experience a higher than normal concentration of uric acid in their bodies. This in turn can lead to gout.
If the problem persists for a long time, it eventually evolves into arthritis, Chen said.
Noting the connection between dietary habits and gout, Chen said that while Japanese patients are often afflicted with arthritis, it is rare for monosodium urate to become concentrated in their joints.
Chen attributed this to the light Japanese diet.
He warned the public to seek medical help when gout strikes the first time, saying the condition is often accompanied by cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndromes, strokes, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.