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Weight Cycling and Knee Joint Degeneration in Individuals with Overweight or Obesity: Four-Year Magnetic Resonance Imaging Data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative.

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The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between weight cycling and knee joint degeneration in individuals with overweight or obesity with different patterns of weight change over 4 years.


A total of 2,271 individuals from the Osteoarthritis Initiative database were assessed (case-control study). Linear regression models using annual BMI measurements over 4 years were used to classify participants as weight cyclers or noncyclers. 3-T magnetic resonance imaging was used to quantify knee cartilage transverse relaxation time (T2) and cartilage thickness annually over 4 years in all subjects. Whole-Organ Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scores (WORMS) were obtained for cartilage, meniscus, and bone-marrow abnormalities in 958 subjects at baseline and at the 4-year follow-up. The longitudinal differences in cartilage T2 and thickness between weight cyclers and noncyclers were assessed using general estimating equations, whereas the differences in WORMS outcomes were compared using general linear models.


No significant differences in the rate of change of cartilage thickness or T2 were found between weight cyclers and noncyclers. However, increases in maximum cartilage WORMS (P = 0.0025) and bone-marrow abnormalities (P = 0.04) were significantly greater in weight cyclers than in noncyclers.


Although participants' intent for weight cycling in this study was unknown, weight cyclers had significantly greater increases in cartilage and bone-marrow abnormalities over 4 years than noncyclers, independent of weight gain and loss.

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