high sugar-diet, which is often blamed for causing obesity, has also been linked to gout

Western diets can increase the risk of gout, a study suggests.

People are more likely to get the painful condition if they indulge in red and processed meats, soft drinks, French fries, sugar and sweet treats, researchers found. However a diet rich in fruit, veg, nuts and wholegrains may protect against it, research on more than 40,000 men revealed.

Scientists from Harvard Medical School in the US believe these types of food help lower levels of a chemical called uric acid, which causes the illness.

Gout is a form of arthritis which affects about half a million adults in the UK, or 4 per cent of the population.

It occurs when uric acid builds up into small crystals, which form inside the joints.

The condition, which causes sudden attacks of severe pain and swelling, is most common in men over 30 or women after the menopause. The study, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at 44,444 men aged 40 to 75 who had never been diagnosed with gout.

They were followed for the next 26 years and while some went on to be diagnosed with gout, those who ate the most fruit, veg and wholegrain were 32 per cent less likely to get it.

While the findings are not conclusive, study leader Dr Hyon Choi said such a diet ‘may provide an attractive preventive dietary approach’.

But the UK Gout Society said diet was only a small factor, warning weight, genetics and other illnesses also raised the risk of gout.

© Daily Mail