Gout has been a known condition for centuries, and its prevalence and patterns have evolved over time.
According to Kidney.org, cases of gout more than doubled between the 1960s and the 1990s. It is now estimated at 3.9% of U.S. adults (8.3 million adults — 6.1 million men and 2.2 million women).
Gout has been recognized since ancient times, and historical figures such as Hippocrates and Galen described symptoms resembling gout. It was often associated with excess and indulgence in rich foods and alcohol.
Prevalence in Europe:
In the 18th and 19th centuries, gout was sometimes referred to as the “disease of kings” or the “rich man’s disease” because it was more commonly observed among the wealthy. This association was likely due to the dietary habits prevalent in those social classes.
Globalization and Dietary Changes:
The globalization of diets and increased consumption of purine-rich foods have contributed to the spread of gout in various regions. Diets high in red meat, seafood, and fructose-sweetened beverages have been linked to higher rates of gout.
Increasing Rates in Developing Countries:
Gout has become a significant health concern in some developing countries. As urbanization and dietary patterns change, there has been an increase in the prevalence of gout in regions such as parts of Asia.
Prevalence by Gender:
Historically, gout has been more prevalent in men than women. However, the gap has been narrowing, and an increasing number of women are being diagnosed with gout.
Gout is more commonly diagnosed in older adults. The risk increases with age, and it often becomes more prevalent in individuals over the age of 40.
Certain populations may have a higher genetic predisposition to gout. For example, Pacific Islanders, Māori in New Zealand, and some Indigenous peoples have shown elevated rates of gout. It’s no wonder Hawaii has the highest rate of gout cases in the US.
It’s important to recognize that gout is a complex condition influenced by genetic, lifestyle, and dietary factors. Changes in dietary habits, increased life expectancy, and the global spread of certain risk factors have contributed to the evolving patterns of gout worldwide.