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Knee Arthritis: Very Low-Calorie Diet May Help

Patients on Formula Diet Achieved Dramatic Weight Loss

Obesity a Major Osteoarthritis Contributor continued...

All the patients had weekly sessions with a nutritionist during their time on the diet. During the second phase of the study they were taught healthy eating strategies based on five to six small meals a day.

Cambridge Manufacturing Company, which markets the formula-based diet, co-funded the study.

Christensen says the patients lost mostly fat and not lean muscle mass during their time on the diet, and most showed improvements in vitamin D and vitamin B12 levels. Vitamin D is associated with bone health.

The study appeared online Dec. 21 in advance of publication in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Expert: Exercise, Weight Loss Both Important

Although Kolasinski agrees that strategies are needed to help obese osteoarthritis patients lose weight, she is far from convinced that very low-calorie diets are the answer.

She says many of her patients succeed in losing weight and reducing joint pain by combining a less restrictive low-calorie diet with regular exercise.

“Regular exercise and weight loss are optimal, but exercise can make a huge difference even in patients who don’t lose a lot of weight,” she says. “We know that people with osteoarthritis tend to get way too little exercise.”

Kolasinski recommends swimming and other aquatic exercise, which is easy on the joints. But she adds that many other forms of exercise, including yoga, pilates, and resistance training, can be adapted to osteoarthritis patients.

“I have a number of patients doing Zumba, and they love it,” she says.

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