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Wake Forest seeking participants for knee osteoarthritis trial

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The pain was so intense for Marinella Holden, she gave up shopping.

“You couldn’t walk for very long distances, you’d get so tired,” she said.

Her knee pain presented daily challenges, which was enough motivation to sign up for a research trial at Wake Forest University.

“I decided I didn’t want to be in a wheelchair all my life,” she said.

Holden participated in Wake Forest University’s Intensive Diet and Exercise for Arthritis trial (IDEA).

She was in a group that examined how diet and exercise could decrease pain related to osteoarthritis of the knee.

“Over half of the people with osteoarthritis of the knee are overweight or obese. We found that weight loss works about equal to exercise, but what we’ve found recently is that the combination is magical,” said Stephen Messier, professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest University.

IDEA is the inspiration for the current study WE-CAN (Weight Loss and Exercise for Communities with Arthritis in North Carolina).

Participants have to be at least 50 years old, experience knee pain most days of the week and are overweight.

The study consists of an 18-month trial of exercise and weight loss.

Teams at Wake Forest University are recruiting 820 older adults to participate.

They will either receive a diet and exercise program or healthy living classes.

“Our goal for each participant in that group is that they lose 10 percent of their starting body weight. So obviously they have to put in a lot of work not only with us, but also on their own,” said Danny Hamm, WE-CAN diet coordinator.

Messier says WE-CAN is designed to replicate what was done in a controlled environment with IDEA but in more of a community setting.

The WE-CAN study is taking place in Forsyth, Haywood and Johnston counties.

To participate call (877) BE-VITAL or (336) 713-8539.