Is There A Link? Soft Drinks & Osteoarthritis

Research Paper Title

Soft Drink Intake and Progression of Radiographic Knee Osteoarthritis: Data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative.


The researchers examine the prospective association of soft drink consumption with radiographic progression of knee osteoarthritis (OA) using a prospective cohort study. The study used data from the osteoarthritis initiative (OAI) using 2149 participants with radiographic knee OA and having dietary data at baseline followed up to 12, 24, 36 and 48 months.


The soft drink consumption was assessed with a Block Brief Food Frequency Questionnaire completed at baseline. To evaluate knee OA progression, the researchers used quantitative medial tibiofemoral joint space width (JSW) based on plain radiographs. The multivariate linear models for repeated measures were used to test the independent association between soft drink intake and the change in JSW over time, while adjusting for body mass index and other potential confounding factors.


In stratified analyses by gender, the researchers observed a significant dose-response relationship between baseline soft drink intake and adjusted mean change of JSW in men. With increasing levels of soft drink intake (none, ≤1, 2-4 and ≥5 times/week), the mean decreases of JSW were 0.31, 0.39, 0.34 and 0.60 mm, respectively. When the researchers further stratified by obesity, a stronger dose-response relationship was found in non-obese men. In obese men, only the highest soft drink level (≥5 times/week) was associated with increased change in JSW compared with no use. In women, no significant association was observed.


The researchers say their results suggest that frequent consumption of soft drinks may be associated with increased OA progression in men. Replication of these novel findings in other studies demonstrating the reduction in soft drink consumption leads to delay in OA progression is needed.


Lu, B., Ahmad, O.,Zhang, F.F., Driban, J.B., Duryea, J., Lapane, K.L., McAlindon, T. & Eaton, C.B. (2013) Soft Drink Intake and Progression of Radiographic Knee Osteoarthritis: Data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. BMJ Open. 3(7),  pii: e002993.


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