Publication Date



Objective: Osteoarthritis (OA) most commonly affects the patellofemoral compartment of the knee, and is a major cause of pain and disability. Structural changes that evolve prior to the onset of symptoms can be visualised using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). There is little known information about the role of adiposity on the early structural changes in the patella cartilage in younger, asymptomatic adult females. Methods: One hundred and sixty asymptomatic women (20–49 years) participating in the Geelong Osteoporosis Study underwent knee MRI (2006–8). Weight and body mass index (BMI) were measured 10 years prior (1994–7, baseline) and at the time of MRI (current), with change over the period calculated (current–baseline). Relationships between measures of adiposity and patella cartilage volume and defects were examined. Results: After adjustment for age and patella bone volume, there was a reduction of 13 ml (95% confidence interval (95% CI), −25.7, −0.55) in patella cartilage volume for every 1 unit increase in current BMI, and a reduction of 27 ml (95% CI −52.6, −1.5) per BMI unit increase over 10 years (P=0.04 for both). No significant association was observed between baseline BMI and patella cartilage volume (P=0.16). Increased baseline and current weight and BMI were associated with increased prevalence of patella cartilage defects (all P < 0.001). Conclusions: Adiposity and weight gain during midlife are associated with detrimental structural change at the patella in young to middle-aged healthy non-osteoarthritic women. Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding weight gain in younger asymptomatic women may be important in the prevention of patellofemoral OA.


Institute for Health and Ageing

Document Type

Journal Article

Access Rights

ERA Access

Access may be restricted.