Weight loss beneficial to obese individuals’ knees

There is much evidence that reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight is beneficial, particularly for cardiovascular health and cancer prevention. And while it was known that excess weight places additional stress on the joints and increases the risk of premature wear and tear on the cartilage that protects our bones, it was believed that cartilage couldn’t regenerate after weight loss.

There is much evidence that reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight is beneficial, particularly for cardiovascular health and cancer prevention. And while it was known that excess weight places additional stress on the joints and increases the risk of premature wear and tear on the cartilage that protects our bones, it was believed that cartilage couldn’t regenerate after weight loss.

As part of a study involving obese individuals who have osteoarthritis of the knee and lost a significant amount of weight, structural improvements were observed in the participants’ damaged joints following the weight loss. Osteoarthritis develops when there is a degradation of the cartilage that covers bone extremities, which causes pain. Two common causes of the condition are overuse of a limb and obesity.

Researchers recruited 44 extremely obese patients whose body mass index fell by an average of 20 percent after bariatric surgery (average weight loss of 29 kg, or 64 lbs). Knee pain and stiffness scores fell by half, and some markers of the disease also improved significantly. The researchers observed an association between femur cartilage thickness and the degree of weight loss. Another study involving 78 patients yielded similar findings. However, previous studies had found that weight loss has little impact once osteoarthritis is established.

The findings described above are from a small-scale study. Nevertheless, even though the regenerative effect on knee cartilage has not yet been proven beyond doubt, the other numerous benefits of reaching a healthy body weight are sufficient evidence for arguing in favour of lifestyle changes that would benefit the body as a whole.

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