If you are overweight, it will increase the load through your joints and speed up the breakdown of articular cartilage. Between 3 and 7 times your body weight goes through your knee depending on the activity you are doing. It therefore follows that even small amounts of weight loss can have a dramatic effect on your knee.
You can see whether you are a healthy weight for your height by checking your Body Mass Index here. A BMI of between 18 and 25 is ideal. In obese patients, the risk of developing arthritis is between 4 and 5 times greater than non-obese people. In those 20% with the highest BMI, the risk is 10 times higher.
What if I already have arthritis?
If you already have knee or hip problems it is still worth losing weight. Several studies have demonstrated that weight loss decreased the pain felt from arthritic knees. This can therefore delay or even prevent the need for surgical intervention.
If you do require an operation, then obesity makes the surgery more technically challenging, the surgery takes longer, the recovery is prolonged and the risk of complications is higher. There is also a higher failure rate in joint replacements in obese patients.
How to lose weight effectively
Effective long-lasting weight loss is best achieved through lifestyle adjustments, rather than crash-dieting. Different approaches will work for different people, but it is important to have help and support from family and friends. Although there are many weight loss plans out there, this is a good evidence-based programme from NHS Choices. Other services like this one are provided free of charge in the Nottinghamshire area to help you with your weight management.
Exercise may be tricky if you are suffering with hip or knee pain. High impact exercises such as running may not be possible. In this case you should consider lower impact activities such as cycling or swimming which will put minimal stress on your joints yet still allow you to burn calories.