The findings appear in the Dec. 21 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
While the study's main funding came from two Norwegian foundations, it was funded in part by the makers of the Cambridge Weight Plan. Study co-author Dr. Anthony Leeds is the medical director of the program. The company paid for the dieticians and donated their products, Christensen said.
The diets included the recommended daily intake of amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, the researchers said. It also increased levels of vitamin D, which is essential for bone growth. Levels of vitamin B12 were also boosted, to improve nervous-system functioning of the nervous system and blood production.
Losing weight helped more than 60 percent of the participants reduce their knee pain and improved their ability to walk, the researchers found.
Osteoarthritis results in degradation of joints causing joint pain, tenderness, stiffness and locking. According to Christensen, many weight-loss diets decrease bone mineral density, which can weaken bones, especially among people who can't exercise.
The researchers have followed these patients for a year to see if they have maintained their weight loss and whether their osteoarthritis has improved, Christensen said. "The results are looking good," he said.
Maintaining weight loss over time is the challenge, Heller said.
Without learning strategies for managing life's daily obstacle course of stressors, frustrations, temptations and social interactions, it is highly likely that people who lose weight on a formula diet will regain the weight they lost when they stop the program, she said.
"Losing weight is difficult at best, and for people who are overweight or obese the struggle is complex and involves environmental, physiological, psychological and health issues," Heller said.
"People who ar
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