Osteoarthritis has a major impact on mobility and functioning leading to impairment in activities of daily living and quality of life. The aim of our analysis was to reveal the prevalence of self-reported, doctor-diagnosed osteoarthritis with a representative population based survey, including data for 15,474 subjects. Prevalence of osteoarthritis was 11.9 % in men and 18.6 % in women. A total of 73.4 % of men and 74.9 % of women with osteoarthritis reported to have had severe pain in the last 12 months; 60.3 % of male and 67.0 % of female patients reported that the disease was treated within the last 12 months. Age, socio-economic parameters, overweight and obesity, as well as living in a rural area were significant predictors of osteoarthritis. Even if the onset of osteoarthritis may not be averted, public health and prevention programmes may improve quality of life significantly if they are adequately tuned to sex, age and personal capabilities.