Obesity is a common cause in the development of osteoarthritis (OA). Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage is worn down over time exposing the underlying bone. This in turn will make it harder for joints to move. Obesity is defined as the excessive accumulation and storage of fat on the body. This additional weight on the body, adds extra stress on joints, putting people at an increased risk for OA. In addition to obesity adding stress to joints, it has also been shown to lead to OA by increasing inflammation in the body. Studies have shown that adipose tissue (fat tissue), releases many inflammatory factors contributing to an inflammatory state in the body and osteoarthritis. These inflammatory factors have been shown to target articular cartilage resulting in OA. Both OA and obesity have been shown to reduce mobility which can lead to further weight gain and additional issues with joints as well as obesity related diseases. Losing weight will not only decrease a person’s risk for OA, but those with OA, can experience joint pain relief after weight loss. Some tips to help you lose weight:
- Set realistic goals: A healthy rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. All it takes is cutting 500-1000 calories each day to lose 1-2 pounds per week. Don’t be discouraged if your rate of weight loss is not as fast as you would like it to be.
- Portion control: Try using measuring cups, or a food scale to measure portions. This will not only help you eat less, but it will help you learn what a correct portion size is. You may be surprised to find out how much you are actually eating.
- Start a Food diary: Try writing down when you eat and how much you are eating. Many of us snack mindlessly during the day, and sometimes don’t realize the amount we eat.
- Plan and Prepare: Plan meals and snacks in advance, and try not to go more than three hours without eating. Planning ahead will help you make healthier choices, and avoid over indulging when hunger strikes.
- Fill up on fiber: Fiber will keep you feeling full from one meal to the next. To add fiber to your diet, choose whole grains, fruits and vegetables with their skins, beans, lentils, nuts, and oats. Look for at least 3 grams of fiber when choosing whole grains.
- Add fruits and vegetables: Try to fill half of your plate at meals with fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables paired with a protein will also make a satisfying snack. Try carrots with hummus, or an apple with a tablespoon of almond butter to keep you full until your next meal.
Linzy Unger, MS, RD, CDN is a clinical nutritionist at Hospital for Special Surgery. She received a MS in nutrition from Lehman College and a BS in Retail Management and Consumer Studies from Syracuse University. Linzy has counseled and given lectures to patients of all ages on various nutrition topics. Some of her nutrition interests include diabetes, sports nutrition, special diets, and weight management. She is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Dietetic Practice Group; and serves on the public relations committee of the Greater New York Dietetic Association.