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Weight loss + exercise helps knees

New study on osteoarthritis receives national news coverage

By Cheryl Walker ('88) Office of Communications and External Relations
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Weight loss combined with exercise reduces pain and improves mobility in people with knee osteoarthritis, according to research presented by Professor of Health and Exercise Science Steve Messier earlier this month at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago.

Messier and a team of researchers conducted the Intensive Diet and Exercise for Arthritis (IDEA) trial that measured 454 overweight adults with pain caused by knee osteoarthritis. Participants were selected randomly to lose weight in 18-months by either diet restriction only, or combining dietary restrictions with exercise.

“Long-term intensive diet and moderate exercise can improve mobility and reduce pain by as much as 50 percent,” Messier said.

The IDEA trial data provides evidence that shows that the best recommendation for long-term symptom reduction in overweight and obese persons with knee osteoarthritis is intensive weight loss combined with low to moderate intensity exercise.

The study has received national media coverage in USA Today, US News & World Report and several other media outlets.

Other Wake Forest researchers involved in the study include: Barbara J. Nicklas, Claudine Legault, (Wake Forest School of Medicine), Shannon Mihalko, Gary D. Miller, Mary Lyles (Wake Forest School of Medicine), Jeff D. Williamson, (Wake Forest School of Medicine), J. Jeffery Carr, (Wake Forest School of Medicine) and Richard F. Loeser.

Wake Forest undergraduate and graduate students also worked on the IDEA study.

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