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Obesity causes knee arthritis.

Obesity Causes Knee Arthritis

BOSTON: Being overweight -- or some factor associated with being overweight -- leads to the development of arthritis in the knees, according to a group of Boston researchers. Arthritis, which is characterized by degeneration of the cartilage and bone of the joints, usually strikes after the age of 65.

Arthritis in the knees is probably more debilitating than it is in any other joint. Although past studies have linked obesity and knee arthritis, the casual relationship was not definite, since the studies did not rule out that people had become sedentary after developing arthritis, and then gained weight.

However, David T. Felsen, M.D., M.P.H., of Boston City Hospital, and colleagues studied 1,420 people who had been followed for 35 years as part of the Framingham Heart Study (which has closely tracked residents of Framingham, Mass., in an effort to identify risk factors for heart disease).

The researchers placed them into one of five groups based on their weights when they were first examined, between 1948 to 1952, when their median age was 37. At their 18th exam, which took place between 1983 and 1985, knee X-rays were taken, revealing arthritis in 33% of the group. Men in the heaviest group had a 42% higher rate of osteoarthritis than men in the four lighter groups.

This obesity-arthritis link was even stronger for females: the rate was higher among women in both the heaviest and the second-heaviest groups. Although the study's results "strongly suggest that obesity is an important cause of knee osteoarthritis," the Boston team noted that questions still remain, including what happens if people in the early stages of arthritis lose weight, as well as exactly how obesity leads to arthritis. (Annals of Internal Medicine, 7:1:88)
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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Mar 22, 1989
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