Scalable knee osteoarthritis programs are needed to deliver recommended education, exercise, and weight loss interventions.
To evaluate two 6-month, telehealth-delivered exercise programs, 1 with and 1 without dietary intervention.
3-group, parallel randomized (5:5:2) trial. (Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12618000930280)
Australian private health insurance members.
415 persons with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis and a body mass index between 28 and 40 kg/m2 who were aged 45 to 80 years.
All groups received access to electronic osteoarthritis information (control). The exercise program comprised 6 physiotherapist consultations via videoconference for exercise, self-management advice, and behavioral counseling, plus exercise equipment and resources. The diet and exercise program included an additional 6 dietitian consultations for a ketogenic very-low-calorie diet (2 formulated meal replacements and a low-carbohydrate meal daily) followed by a transition to healthy eating, as well as nutrition and behavioral resources.
Primary outcomes were changes in knee pain (numerical rating scale [NRS] of 0 to 10, higher indicating worse) and physical function (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index [WOMAC]; scale, 0 to 68, higher indicating worse) at 6 months (primary time point) and 12 months. Secondary outcomes were weight, physical activity, quality of life, mental health, global change, satisfaction, willingness to have surgery, orthopedic appointments, and knee surgery.
A total of 379 participants (91%) provided 6-month primary outcomes, and 372 (90%) provided 12-month primary outcomes. At 6 months, both programs were superior to control for pain (between-group mean difference in change on NRS: diet and exercise, −1.5 [95% CI, −2.1 to −0.8]; exercise, −0.8 [CI, −1.5 to −0.2]) and function (between-group mean difference in change on WOMAC: diet and exercise, −9.8 [CI, −12.5 to −7.0]; exercise, −7.0 [CI, −9.7 to −4.2]). The diet and exercise program was superior to exercise (pain, −0.6 [CI, −1.1 to −0.2]; function, −2.8 [CI, −4.7 to −0.8]). Findings were similar at 12 months.
Participants and clinicians were unblinded.
Telehealth-delivered exercise and diet programs improved pain and function in people with knee osteoarthritis and overweight or obesity. A dietary intervention conferred modest additional pain and function benefits over exercise.