BACKGROUND:Research involving more representative samples is needed to extend our understanding of the broader impact of obesity in hip or knee joint disease (arthritis and OA) beyond clinical settings. Although population-based research has been conducted in the United States, how these findings translate to other countries is unclear. Using a national approach, this study explored associations between obesity and the burden of hip and knee joint disease in Australia (in terms of prevalence, pain, stiffness, function, Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) and disease severity). METHODS:A random sample of 5000 Australians (≥ 39 years) from the federal electoral roll was invited to complete a mailed questionnaire to identify doctor-diagnosed hip arthritis, hip OA, knee arthritis and knee OA and evaluate the burden of these conditions. Validated questionnaires included the WOMAC Index, Assessment of Quality of Life instrument and Multi-Attribute Prioritisation Tool. Body Mass Index (BMI) was classified into underweight/normal weight (≤ 24.99 kg/m2), overweight (25-29.99) or obese (≥ 30). Multiple logistic regression was used to estimate odds of arthritis and OA, with demographic and socioeconomic variables included in the models. Associations between BMI and other variables were investigated using analysis of covariance, with adjustment for age and sex. RESULTS:Data were available from 1,157 participants (23%). Overweight participants had increased odds of knee arthritis (adjusted OR (AOR) 1.87, 95%CI 1.14-3.07) and knee OA (AOR 2.11, 95%CI 1.07-4.15). Obesity was associated with higher prevalence of hip arthritis (AOR 2.18, 95%CI 1.17-4.06), knee arthritis (AOR 5.47, 95%CI 3.35-8.95) and knee OA (AOR 7.35, 95%CI 3.85-14.02). Of those with arthritis or OA, obese individuals reported more pain (for hip arthritis, hip OA and knee OA), greater stiffness (for hip arthritis, knee arthritis and knee OA), worse function (all diagnoses), lower HRQoL (for hip arthritis and hip OA) and greater disease severity (all diagnoses). CONCLUSIONS:This national study has demonstrated that the odds of arthritis and OA was up to 7 times higher for obese individuals, compared with those classified as underweight/normal weight. Concurrent obesity and joint disease had a marked impact on several key aspects of wellbeing, highlighting the need for public health interventions.