Losing weight through a balanced diet and exercise or diet alone can help keep your knees healthy in the long run, reveals a recent study.
Lead author Alexandra Gersing from the University of California, San Francisco, said that once cartilage is lost in osteoarthritis, the disease cannot be reversed.
Since cartilage loss cannot be reversed, it is important for people at risk of osteoarthritis or with early signs of the disease to slow the degeneration of cartilage.
Weight loss has been shown to slow down cartilage degeneration in overweight and obese individuals, but it was unclear if the method used to lose weight made a difference.
The team investigated 760 men and women with a body mass index of greater than 25 from the Osteoarthritis Initiative over the course of 96 months in overweight and obese individuals who maintained stable weight and who lost weight via differing regimens.
The patients had either mild to moderate osteoarthritis or risk factors for the disease, and were divided into two groups - a group of 380 who lost weight, and a control group of 380 patients who lost no weight.
The weight-loss group was further segmented by weight loss method: diet and exercise, diet alone and exercise alone.
They used MRI to quantify knee osteoarthritis at the beginning of the study, at 48 months and at 96 months.
The findings indicated that cartilage degeneration was significantly lower in the weight-loss group compared to the control group over the 96 months.
However, this finding was only present among the patients who lost weight through diet and exercise or diet alone.
The results added to the hypothesis that solely exercise as a regimen in order to lose weight in overweight and obese adults may not be as beneficial to the knee joint as weight loss regimens involving diet, the researchers stated.
The study is presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.