Researchers found that overweight or obese adults experienced slower degeneration of knee joint structures after losing 5 or 10 percent of their body weight over 4 years, compared with those who did not lose weight.
Lead study author Dr. Alexandra Gersing, of the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California-San Francisco, and colleagues recently reported their findings in the journal Radiology.
Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis in the U.S., affecting more than 30 million adults.
The condition is caused by the breakdown of cartilage, the tissue that protects the joints at the ends of bones and enables them to move smoothly.
Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for OA; the excess weight can put extra pressure on the joints and cartilage, causing “wear and tear.”
Furthermore, Dr. Gersing and colleagues note that higher levels of body fat can lead to an increase in substances in the blood that trigger joint inflammation, which can raise the risk of OA.
For their study, the researchers set out to gain a better understanding of how weight loss affects joint health.
“We looked at the degeneration of all knee joint structures, such as menisci, articular cartilage, and bone marrow,” notes Dr. Gersing.
Menisci are the pieces of fibrous cartilage that cushion and protect the surface of joints, while articular cartilage is the smooth, connective tissue that covers the ends of bones.
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