The number of people diagnosed with gout in the UK is the highest in Europe, with one in 40 now suffering from the condition, research from the Nottingham University shows.
According to the report, published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, the number of people diagnosed with the disease has gone up by roughly 1.5% each year since the late 1990s.
The main factors driving the increase in the spread of gout, which is a type of arthritis caused by a build-up of uric acid in the blood, is people´s changed diets, said Dr Weiya Zhang, who led the study. Over the last few decades people have started to consume more red meat and sea food, which used to feature only in the meals of rich people but now they can be consumed by anyone. She considers that the high prevalence rate of gout is quite surprising since the disease is easy to diagnose and also one of the few conditions that can be easily treated.
The results, however, reveal that many people with gout were not treated soon after the condition was diagnosed. In 2012 fewer than one in five patients received medication within six months of diagnosis. Meanwhile, just one in four was taking medication a year after being diagnosed.
People can try to avert the risk of gout by losing weight if they are obese, by drinking less alcohol and by reducing the consumption of foods rich in purines, such as red meat and mackerel.