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Weight Loss Treats Arthritis of the Knee

Researchers studied 454 overweight and obese older people (average age 55) with knee pain and X ray evidence of arthritis. They were divided into three groups and followed for 18 months:
1) intensive diet-induced weight loss plus exercise,
2) intensive diet-induced weight loss, or
3) exercise.

  • Knee pain decreased and function increased significantly in the subjects who lost at least ten percent of their body weight.
  • Those who combined diet and exercise had significantly less knee pain, better function, faster walking speed, better physical health-related quality of life and greater reductions in interleukin-6 levels, a measure of the inflammation that damages joints (JAMA, September 25, 2013;310:1263-1273).

The Greater the Weight Loss, the More their Knees Improved
The more weight the arthritic person lost, the greater the improvement in knee joint function. Those who “lost at least ten percent of body weight had significantly less pain, better function, reduced joint loads, and reduced inflammation compared to people who lost between five percent and ten percent, or less than five percent of their baseline body weight." After 18 months, the average weight loss was greater in the diet and exercise group (-10.6 kg), than in the diet-only group (-8.9 kg) or in the exercise-only group (-1.8 kg).

How They Lost Weight
The diet groups replaced up to two meals per day with a nutritional shake, and ate a 500- to 750-kcal third meal that was low in fat and high in vegetables. The meal replacements were used for the first six months, and participants gradually replaced them with low-calorie meals for the remaining 12 months. The diet plan was designed to produce a daily energy-intake deficit of 800 to 1000 kcal/day. The exercise groups walked and lifted weights for one hour a day, three days a week.  I do  not recommend this type of weight loss program; instead, try intermittent fasting

Checked 10/1/17

October 20th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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