People can reduce their chances of needing a knee or hip replacement in the future by maintaining a healthy weight, new research suggests.
A study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology found that being overweight may increase a person's risk of developing severe osteoarthritis in their hips and knees.
Researchers in Sweden analysed 11,026 men and 16,934 women and found that 1,022 of them underwent joint replacement surgery as a treatment for osteoarthritis within the next 11 years.
Of these patients, 471 had a knee replacement and 551 a hip replacement and the researchers found the main risk factor for developing severe hip or knee osteoarthritis to be a high body mass index (BMI).
Lead investigator Dr Stefan Lohmander, professor and senior consultant at Lund University, commented: "[Being] overweight is one of the few factors leading to osteoarthritis that we can actually do something about.
"We have shown that the risk increase starts already with being moderately overweight, and increases with each further increase in body mass. This is true for men and for women, and for knees and for hips."
The decision to lose weight could also make financial sense as a hip replacement in a UK private hospital generally costs between £7,000 and £9,000.
What's better? Private or NHS healthcare?