Researchers are gaining valuable insights into the causes and impact of physical inactivity.

Leigh Callahan, PhD

Research shows that structured diet and exercise programs implemented under well-monitored and controlled circumstances can significantly reduce pain for patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA). That’s good news. But the question remains: can such programs offer similar results when you utilize them outside of research settings?

Weight-loss and Exercise for Communities with Arthritis in North Carolina (WE-CAN) is a pragmatic study designed to develop and evaluate a systematic, practical, diet-induced weight loss and exercise intervention that can be implemented successfully in local communities in order to address pain associated with osteoarthritis of the knee. Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder in the US, and OA of the knee is the most common as well as persistent cause of disability.

“While studies have shown that both weight loss and exercise can offer significant benefits for people with osteoarthritis, by far the greatest benefit comes from the combination of these two factors,” says Leigh Callahan, PhD, an epidemiologist with the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center and the Co-Principal Investigator of the WE-CAN study. “Unfortunately, losing weight and maintaining weight loss is hard for many people, as is identifying and incorporating an effective and regular exercise plan. Our goal is to develop an effective program that is also practical and which can be effectively implemented in real-world, community settings that are geographically and socioeconomically diverse.”

The study will serve as a blue-print for a weight loss and exercise program that can help address knee pain associated with OA, as well as improve other health-related outcomes in overweight and obese adults.