The aims of this study were (1) to describe dietary protein intake, and (2) to evaluate the association between dietary protein intake and upper leg muscle strength in subjects with knee osteoarthritis (OA). Baseline data from the OA was used, in a cross-sectional study. All subjects were diagnosed with symptomatic and radiographic knee OA. Daily dietary protein intake was measured with the Block Brief 2000 food frequency questionnaire (g/kg body weight). The sum of knee flexion and extension strength of the index knee (N/kg bodyweight) was assessed with the Good Strength chair test. Linear regression analysis was used to test the association between dietary protein intake and muscle strength, adjusting for relevant confounders. Data from 1316 subjects (mean age 61.4 ± SD 9.1 years, 57.0% female) were used. The mean daily protein intake was 0.72 ± SD 0.30 g/kg bodyweight, and 65.1% of the subjects had a protein intake lower than the recommended daily allowance of 0.8 g/kg bodyweight. The mean muscle strength was 5.4 ± SD 2.1 N/kg bodyweight. Lower protein intake was significantly associated with lower muscle strength (B = 0.583, 95% CI 0.230-0.936, p = 0.001). The majority of the subjects with knee OA had a dietary protein intake lower than the recommended daily allowance. Lower protein intake was associated with lower upper leg muscle strength. Longitudinal observational and interventional studies are needed to establish whether dietary protein intake has a causal effect on muscle strength in subjects with knee OA.
Keywords: Knee joint; Muscle strength; Nutrition; Osteoarthritis; Protein intake.