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Weight Loss Helps Protect Against Knee Cartilage Degeneration

First Posted: Nov 30, 2015 01:31 PM EST

Weight loss can help significantly slow the degeneration of knee cartilage, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco found that participants who lost more than 10 percent of their body weight had a protective effect against cartilage degeneration when compared to participants who lost less weight or those who lost no weight.

"Degenerative joint disease is a major cause of pain and disability in our population, and obesity is a significant risk factor," said the study's lead author, Alexandra Gersing, M.D., from the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California, San Francisco. "Once cartilage is lost in osteoarthritis, the disease cannot be reversed."

During the study, researchers analyzed data on over 500 overweight and obese patients over the age of 60. The patients in the study had mild to moderate osteoarthritis or risk factors for the disease. Researchers analyzed differences in the quality of cartilage among the three groups over a four-year time span.

"Cartilage degenerated a lot slower in the group that lost more than 10 percent of their body weight, especially in the weight-bearing regions of the knee," Gersing said. "However, those with 5 to 10 percent weight loss had almost no difference in cartilage degeneration compared to those who didn't lose weight."

The study results were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

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