Lead author Alexandra Gersing from the University of California, San Francisco, said that once cartilage is lost in osteoarthritis, the disease cannot be reversed.
Weight loss has been shown to slow down cartilage degeneration in overweight and obese individuals, but it was unclear if the method used to lose weight made a difference.
The team investigated 760 men and women with a body mass index of greater than 25 from the Osteoarthritis Initiative over the course of 96 months in overweight and obese individuals who maintained stable weight and who lost weight via differing regimens.
The patients had either mild to moderate osteoarthritis or risk factors for the disease, and were divided into two groups - a group of 380 who lost weight, and a control group of 380 patients who lost no weight.
They used MRI to quantify knee osteoarthritis at the beginning of the study, at 48 months and at 96 months.
The findings indicated that cartilage degeneration was significantly lower in the weight-loss group compared to the control group over the 96 months.
The results added to the hypothesis that solely exercise as a regimen in order to lose weight in overweight and obese adults may not be as beneficial to the knee joint as weight loss regimens involving diet, the researchers stated.
The study is presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. (ANI)