Obesity is one of the most common factors that increases the risk of knee arthritis. Pressure on the knees can be reduced considerably if the individual loses weight and it is often recommended for people who have this condition. However, for some people, it is difficult to lose those extra pounds.
Osteoarthritis is caused by degenerative changes in the joints associated with aging. A recent study conducted by researchers in Denmark shows that eating a high-protein, low-calorie diet will help patients with osteoarthritis to lose weight safely. In this study, nine out of the 10 obese patients stayed in a low-calorie diet for a period of four months. The results displayed that the participants lost an average of 30 pounds each by the end of the study. The loss of extra pounds was also associated with an improvement in the mobility and decreased knee pain in 60% of the participants.
In a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 192 obese participants with osteoarthritis over 50-years-old were recruited. Out of these recruits, 175 patients were assigned to a formula-based, commercial Cambridge Weight Plan for 16 weeks. In this plan, about 200 to 810 calories were given to each participant per day in the first 8 weeks, followed by 1,200 calories per day in the last 12 weeks. The increase in calories was added with the addition of a food-based meal. All of the participants had regular sessions with a nutritionist and were taught healthy eating habits. They were educated on healthy eating, and were advised to eat small meals five to six times throughout the day. Researchers found that most of the participants lost the fat and without removing the lean mass over the course of their diet. In addition, most of the participants showed improvements in the levels of vitamin D and vitamin B 12.
Researcher Robin Christensen, PhD, says that “such a calorie-restricted formula-based diet will form an effective treatment for arthritis”. However, there are contradictory views to this as given by Sharon L. Kolasinski, MD, who heads the division of rheumatology at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J. Sharon suggests that though the weight loss is quite impressive in this 16-week trial, the condition of the patients after 6 months is unknown. This is because very rapid weight loss is almost inevitably followed by a rapid weight gain as well. After losing all of the weight, it is common for an individual to gain it all back to and become their original size when they stop their diet.
Over the next few years, about 6.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with osteoarthritis. There is a rampant increase in obesity and many new cases of osteoarthritis are expected to be reported in people who are under 60-years-old. According to Kolasinski, a more practical approach would be to combine a less restrictive diet and incorporate regular physical exercise in daily routines. Weight loss, in this case, may not be very significant but exercise creates a huge impact on people who do not lose much weight. Kolasinski suggests that exercise, like swimming, would be ideal because it is easy on the joints. Other forms of exercise, like yoga, pilates, and resistance training, may also be beneficial.