Overweight People Risk Long Term Knee Damage

A research just published by Arthritis Research & Therapy Journal concludes that women who are overweight during their early and middle adulthood have a much greater chance of developing knee problems, which could become debilitating in the longer term.

Weight gain affects the structure of the knee in previously healthy adults. Structural damage includes cartilage defects, reduction in cartilage volume and bone marrow lesions. In the study group women between the age of 30 and 49 were examined over a 10 year period, with body mass index taken 10 years prior to knee examination (magnetic resonance imaging).

The results showed that for every increase in BMI by one point there was an increased risk of cartilage defects. Also a single unit increase in BMI over a 10 year period results in reduced cartilage volume.

“Whilst the impact of weight gain at different stages of life on knee structure warrants further investigation, so too does the impact of weight loss, to determine whether this is able to reverse these structural changes.” Brennan et al, 2010.

More research is required to better understand the process that occurs. It may be that the damage is not permanent if overweight people manage to lose weight and start exercising to relieve pressures on the joints and strengthen the knees. However, it is clear that carrying excess weight can certainly lead to mobility problems in the future.

Another recent study showed that children that become obese due to over eating become less active as a result. It seems that weight gain really is a vicious cycle whereby the more weight that is put on as a result of poor diet and over eating, the harder it is to lose the weight due to inactivity. When people start to feel that they are not capable of being active, they can quickly start to lose all hope at losing weight, especially later in life. The solution – we need to try to help people sooner and discourage over eating from childhood.


  • Does an increase in body mass index over 10 years affect knee structure in a population-based cohort study of adult women?” by Sharon L Brennan, Flavia M Cicuttini, Julie A Pasco, Margaret J Henry, Yuanyuan Wang, Mark A Kotowicz, Geoff C Nicholson and Anita E Wluka. Arthritis Research & Therapy 2010, 12:R139doi:10.1186/ar3078. Published: 13 July 2010. Abstract.

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