Recommendations for weight management in osteoarthritis: A systematic review of clinical practice guidelines

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Objective: While targeting obesity is central to osteoarthritis management, recent meta-analyses demonstrate only modest effects of weight loss on symptoms, and little on structure. The World Health Organisation recommends that effective management of obesity include prevention of weight gain, weight maintenance and weight loss. Therefore, we systematically reviewed the recommendations and approaches for management of obesity in clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) for osteoarthritis. Design: Nine databases were searched (01.01.2010–15.03.2022) to identify guidelines informing the non-pharmacological management of osteoarthritis. Three reviewers appraised guidelines according to the AGREE II instrument, and independently extracted data on their characteristics. One author extracted and summarised guideline recommendations on weight management. This systematic review is registered on PROSPERO (CRD42021274195). Results: Of the included fifteen CPGs (median AGREE II domain score 78.7%), weight loss was recommended for knee (12 of 13) and hip (10 of 11) but not hand (0 of 4) osteoarthritis. Combination approaches of diet and/or exercise were recommended for overweight or obese individuals in knee (8 of 12) and hip (4 of 10) osteoarthritis. Two guidelines specified ≥5% weight loss. One guideline specified strategies for maintenance of lost weight; none specifically recommended preventing weight gain. There was discordance between strength of recommendation for weight loss and level of evidence (3 of 15). Conclusion: Most CPGs for knee and hip osteoarthritis recommend weight loss to manage obesity in osteoarthritis. As steady weight accumulation is common in adults, preventing weight gain should also be considered as it is a missed opportunity to improve outcomes in osteoarthritis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100298
Number of pages20
JournalOsteoarthritis and Cartilage Open
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Clinical practice guidelines
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Recommendation
  • Systematic review
  • Weight management

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