Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine whether measures of obesity and adiposity are associated with the rate of patella cartilage volume loss in healthy adults.
Methods: 297 community-based adults aged 50–79 years with no clinical knee osteoarthritis were recruited at baseline (2003–4). 271 (62% female) subjects were re-examined at follow-up (2006–7). Measures of obesity (body mass index (BMI) and weight) and adiposity (fat mass and percentage fat mass), as well as patella cartilage volume, were determined by established protocols.
Results: Patella cartilage volume was lost at an annual rate of 1.8% (95% CI 1.4% to 2.1%). Increased baseline BMI, weight, fat mass and percentage fat mass were all associated with an increased rate of patella cartilage volume loss after adjustment for confounders (all p⩽0.04). The direction and magnitude of the effects were similar for both sexes but the number of men examined was considerably smaller and the associations were not statistically significant. There were no significant associations observed between change in any of the obesity and adiposity measures and the rate of patella cartilage volume loss.
Conclusion: This study demonstrated that increased levels of obesity and adiposity are associated with an increased annual rate of patella cartilage volume loss in healthy adults. Weight-loss interventions that reduce body mass, or specifically target a reduction in fat mass, may help to reduce the rate at which patella cartilage volume is lost, and subsequently the risk of patellofemoral osteoarthritis.
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