Obesity Profiles with Knee Osteoarthritis: Correlation with Pain, Disability, Disease Progression


  • Ray Marks

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Health and Behavior Studies, Columbia University, Teachers College, New York, and Department of Health/Physical Education & Gerontological Studies/Services, York College, The City University of New York, New York, New York.
    Search for more papers by this author

  • The costs of publication of this article were defrayed, in part, by the payment of page charges. This article must, therefore, be hereby marked “advertisement” in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

Department of Health and Behavior Studies, Teachers College, Box 114, 525W 120th Street, New York, NY 10027. E-mail: rm226@columbia.edu


Objectives: To identify the prevalence of overweight among community-dwelling adults diagnosed as having knee osteoarthritis (OA) and the relationship between the weight status of these individuals, selected disease-related outcomes, and disease progression.

Research Methods and Procedures: The BMIs of 82 women and 18 men with unilateral or bilateral knee OA were examined on a single occasion along with data on physical comorbidities, pain, and function and subjected to correlation analyses. BMIs from two additional samples, one that included 16 women with and without knee OA and one that included 24 women and 6 men with knee joint OA that required surgery for the subsequent onset of hip OA, were also assessed.

Results: At least 80% of all present cohorts were overweight or obese. Those with higher BMIs reported more pain than those with lower BMIs (p < 0.05) and pain was related to perceived physical exertion (p < 0.05). Body mass indices were not significantly correlated with generic gait measures, but an inverse trend toward the time spent in the gait cycle (r = −0.63; p = 0.097) that may impact the disease process was identified. Those with comorbidities had the same body mass, on average, as those with no comorbidities, and those with bilateral disease were heavier than those with unilateral disease.

Discussion: A high body mass is present in most adults with knee OA. Moreover, being overweight may affect knee joint impact rates and pain incrementally. Having high body weights may heighten the risk for bilateral knee joint, as well as hip joint, OA.