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    Weight Loss and OA: Any loss Will Do continued...

    "If you achieve significant weight loss, you will get symptomatic relief," says Michael Parks, MD, an assistant attending orthopaedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City."There is no hard and fast number," Parks says. "It varies from patient to patient."

    "If you decrease your body size, the load on your knees will go down," agrees Laura Thorp, PhD, an OA researcher at Rush University Medical center in Chicago. Higher than normal knee loads are characteristic of knee OA and progression, she explains. A study in Arthritis & Rheumatism showed that losing just 1 pound resulted in a fourfold reduction in knee joint load among overweight and obese people with knee osteoarthritis.

    Weight Loss and OA: What Are You Waiting For?

    But if losing weight were really so easy, wouldn't more people do it?

    Yes, says David Felson, MD, a professor of medicine and public health at Boston University School of Medicine. "If we could only get people to adhere to weight loss and exercise regimens, we could forestall and even prevent the need for total knee replacement," he says. "Weight loss and exercise are the initial therapies for OA and the thing we speak to everyone about."

    The trick is to set people up to succeed, not fail, he says.

    "I usually tell my OA patients to lose 10 to 15 pounds," Felson says. "I do not want to create an impossible goal because unless they have bariatric surgery, losing 50 pounds is probably not reasonable."

    "I say, 'look, let's keep this reasonable: how can we help you lose 10 to 15 pounds?'"

    Being more active is just one part of the equation, he says. "I may recommend a nutritionist to help with diet, and then I will review their favorite foods and their calories and healthier substitutes with them."

    Choosing whole-grain over white-bread products is a good place to start. Whole-grain products such as oatmeal and whole-wheat bread and pasta are better sources of fiber than their refined counterparts (white bread and white pasta). The more fiber a food has, the more full you feel, and the less likely you are to overeat.

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