Relationship between Total Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Self-Reported Knee Pain in Older Adults

J Nutr Health Aging. 2017;21(7):750-758. doi: 10.1007/s12603-016-0842-7.


Objectives: Knee pain is one of the most common symptoms of knee osteoarthritis (OA) that affects the quality of life in the older adults, and identifying the contributing factors of knee pain is important. We hypothesized that higher fruit and vegetable consumption might be associated with the severity of knee pain lower prevalence of severe knee pain by affecting pain perception in the knee joint. Therefore, we investigated the relationship between self-reported knee pain and the consumption of fruits vegetables, carotenoids and vitamin C and self-reported knee pain.

Design: Nationally representative cross sectional study.

Setting: 2010-2011 rounds of the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Participants: A total of 6588 subjects aged ≥50 years were participated.

Methods: Severity of knee pain was estimated using a 10-point numeric rating scale (NRS). Daily intake of fruits, vegetables, and vitamins were estimated using data from 24-hour recalls and food frequency questionnaires.

Results: The NRS scores of knee pain decreased significantly with increasing fruit and vegetable intake quartiles. A multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that the fourth quartile of vegetable and fruit consumption was associated with decreased prevalence of severe knee pain (OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.48-0.73) compared with first quartile of vegetable and fruit consumption; however, carotenoids and vitamin C consumption was not associated with the severity of knee pain.

Conclusions: In conclusion, severe knee pain was independently associated with fruit and vegetable consumption. Our findings suggest that intake of whole fruits and vegetables may help improve knee pain in older adults.

Keywords: Knee pain; fruit intake; knee osteoarthritis; vegetable intake.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Carotenoids / administration & dosage
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / epidemiology*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / prevention & control*
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Prevalence
  • Republic of Korea
  • Self Report
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables*


  • Carotenoids
  • Ascorbic Acid