Overweight or obese patients who lost weight over a 48-month period showed significantly lower cartilage degeneration compared with participants with stable weight, according to a study published in Radiology.

Alexandra S. Gersing, MD, from the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues investigated the association of weight loss with progression of cartilage changes assessed with MR imaging over 48 months in overweight and obese participants compared with participants of stable weight. The study included 640 participants (mean age, 62.9 years; 398 women) who were overweight or obese (body mass index cutpoints of 25 and 30 kg/m2, respectively).

Participants were from the Osteoarthritis Initiative with risk factors for osteoarthritis or mild to moderate radiographic findings of osteoarthritis including weight loss of more than 10% (n = 82), weight loss of 5% to 10% (n = 238), or stable weight (n = 320), over 48 months.

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Radiologists assessed cartilage and meniscus defects on right knee 3-T MR images at baseline and 48 months by using the modified Whole-Organ Magnetic Resonance Imaging Score (WORMS). Progression of the subscores was compared between the weight loss groups by using multivariable logistic regression models.

Over 48 months, the adjusted mean increase of cartilage WORMS was significantly smaller in the 5% to 10% weight loss group (1.6) and smaller in the group with less than 10% weight loss (1.0) when compared with the stable weight group (2.3). In addition, percentage of weight change was significantly associated with an increase in cartilage.


  1. Gersing AS, Schwaiger BJ, Nevitt MC, et al. Is weight loss associated with less progression of changes in knee articular cartilage among obese and overweight patients as assessed with MR imaging over 48 months? Data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Radiology. 2 May 2017. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2017161005