Once considered a disease of the rich, gout now affects millions of Americans
The arthritic condition known as gout has often been associated with the upper crust, yet it affects more than 9 million Americans each year. Historically, expensive and decadent foods like foie gras, scallops, and caviar were associated with gout due to their richness in the chemical compound purine. Purine produces excess uric acid in the body, eventually forming sharp crystals that cause inflammation and joint pain. The New York Times points out: “The rich keep getting richer, but there’s been no corresponding spike in sales of historically gouty luxury foods like veal and foie gras; if anything, their appeal has waned with increasing concerns about the ethics of producing them.” So what’s to blame for gout’s rising prevalence and the swath it cuts across class distinctions? Obesity, high-fructose corn syrup, yeasty beer, and genetic factors, to name a few.