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Weight Management for Osteoarthritis

Weight Management Is Essential to Prevent and Control Osteoarthritis


Updated April 03, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Overweight = Increased Risk of Osteoarthritis

It is well-known that being overweight adds burden to your weight-bearing joints, increasing your risk of developing osteoarthritis. If you already have the disease, being overweight may worsen joint function and lead to disability.

This is especially true of knee osteoarthritis. Multiple studies have shown that overweight people have about 4 times the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis compared to people who are normal body weight. Overweight people also have a higher risk of developing hip osteoarthritis, though the correlation is not as strong as it is with knee osteoarthritis.

There Is No "Osteoarthritis Diet"

People always want a quick fix and want to know what diet they should go on to reduce the risk of osteoarthritis. Weight loss need not be dramatic to reduce the risk of osteoarthritis.

However, there is no quick fix and no "osteoarthritis diet". A key part of managing your weight and lowering your risk of osteoarthritis is quite simply a healthy diet! I know what you're thinking -- not as easy as it sounds. It does take discipline and commitment to follow a healthy diet.

Manage Weight Using Dietary Guidelines

If you need guidance to take you step by step, follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005. Here are some key recommendations from the Guidelines regarding weight management:

  • To maintain a healthy body weight, you should balance calories from foods and beverages with calories expended.

  • To prevent gradual weight gain over time, make small decreases in food and beverage calories and increase physical activity.

  • Overweight adults and children who have chronic diseases and/or are on medication should talk to their doctor prior to starting a weight-reduction program.

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommend fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, lean meat, beans, and nuts. Your diet should be low in saturated fats, trans fats, and sugar.

Are You Willing and Ready?

To effectively manage your weight, you need to eat a healthy diet and participate in regular physical activity. If you already knew that, yet weight remains an issue for you -- check your commitment. You must be totally committed to eating well and exercising regularly. There will be new Dietary Guidelines for Americans issued in 2010. Until then, follow the 2005 Dietary Guidelines.


A National Public Health Agenda for Osteoarthritis. CDC. 2/5/2010.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005. Accessed 03/21/10.

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