Obesity and joint structure

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Although OA manifests as joint changes that primarily include progressive cartilage loss and bony abnormalities such as subchondral sclerosis, osteophytes, and bone cysts, it is unclear how obesity influences joint morphology. To date, the majority of studies have measured the BMI (kg/m2) as an indicator of obesity, and only relatively recently have parameters of body composition, such as fat distribution and lean body mass, been examined in the context of joint disease. Nevertheless, there still remains a paucity of data examining the association between joint structure and increased body mass. This lack of specific data may be partly attributable to the difficulty in obtaining reliable, valid, and sensitive measures of cartilage, bone, and body composition properties non-invasively in human subjects. However, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) are becoming widely accepted as noninvasive, reliable, valid, and sensitive measures of cartilage and bony properties, as well as body composition in vivo (5-8).

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