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Your Health

The less we weigh, the less wobbly our knees

Weight and Our Knees

The headline may be obvious. Less clear: Obesity's impact on knee joints causes work absenteeism, work disability, and increased healthcare costs, all due to osteoarthritis, or OA. This condition is the breakdown of knee cartilage, accompanied by pain, tenderness, and/or stiffness. You might still get around with OA, but you're generally miserable.

Seeking to reduce the incidence of osteoarthritis, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois has teamed with Northwestern University in a two-year research project called "Joint ADventure."

For the first 12 months, 90 Blue Cross employee volunteers will be supervised by an NU team from the Feinberg School of Medicine. The research is funded by the National Institutes of Health. The second year will be used to assess test results and replicate the program for use among Blue Cross and Blue Shield members as well as employer groups.

Dr. Paul Handel, recently retired chief medical officer for BCBSTX, says, "Our partnership with Northwestern will provide invaluable insight and, eventually, new ways for our members at risk of developing OA to manage their health."

The chief NU investigator is Dr. Rowland Chang, professor of preventive medicine and director of the Institute for Public Health and Medicine at Feinberg. "We hope study results will provide a blueprint leading to fundamental changes in the way lifestyle interventions are delivered to large employed populations."

Among NU research team members are a nurse clinical specialist, fitness expert, dietician, and occupational therapist. They will provide motivational coaching and sessions focused on "healthy eating and exercise routines."

Dr. Chang says results will be measured in positive lifestyle behavioral changes, including (1) physical activity, (2) dietary behavior, (3) assessment of OA pain, and (4) self-reported, quality-of-life health improvements.

For more information on Joint ADventure, visit Feinberg School of Medicine, then scroll down to the first entry in the "funding" section. (The capitalized "AD" in "ADventure" stands for "Activity/Dietary.")