Weight loss regimen in obese and overweight individuals is associated with reduced cartilage degeneration: 96-month data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2019 Jun;27(6):863-870. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2019.01.018. Epub 2019 Feb 28.


Purpose: To investigate change in knee cartilage composition over 96 months in overweight and obese participants with constant weight compared to those with weight loss (WL), and to assess how different WL regimens are associated with these changes.

Methods: We studied right knees of 760 participants (age 62.6 ± 9.0y; 465 females) with a baseline body mass index (BMI) >25 kg/m2 from the Osteoarthritis Initiative with mild to moderate or with risk factors for knee osteoarthritis. Participants losing weight (>5% of baseline BMI over 72 months; N = 380) were compared to controls with stable weight (SW, N = 380). Participants losing weight were categorized based on WL method (diet and exercise, diet only, exercise only) and compared to those with stable weight. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at 3T was performed at baseline, 48- and 96-months. The association of WL and WL method with change in cartilage composition, measured with T2 mapping, was analyzed using mixed random effects models.

Results: Compared to SW, WL was associated with a significantly slower increase in global (averaged over all compartments) cartilage T2 (adjusted mean difference of change in T2 ms/year [95% CI] between the groups: 0.24 [0.20, 0.41] ms/year; P < 0.001) and global deep layer cartilage T2 0.35 [0.20, 0.42] ms/year; P < 0.001), suggesting slower cartilage deterioration. Compared to the SW group, slower increases in global T2 were observed in the diet and diet and exercise groups, but not in the exercise only group (P = 0.042, P = 0.003 and P = 0.85, respectively).

Conclusion: Our results suggest that WL may slow knee cartilage degeneration over 96 months, and that these potential benefits may differ by method of WL.

Keywords: Cartilage imaging; Magnetic resonance imaging; Osteoarthritis; T2 relaxation time; Weight loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body-Weight Trajectory
  • Cartilage, Articular / diagnostic imaging*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet, Reducing*
  • Disease Progression
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / diagnostic imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / complications
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / diagnostic imaging*
  • Overweight / complications
  • Overweight / therapy
  • Weight Loss*
  • Weight Reduction Programs