According to scientists at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, shedding less than a stone could allow overweight people to slash their risk of developing painful osteoarthritis by 25 per cent.
In a study of 407 women aged between 50 and 60, the Dutch researchers discovered that moderate exercise and a healthy diet cut down on joint wear and tear that can lead to the condition.
None of the participants, though overweight, had osteoarthritis. Half of the volunteers were put on a regime of healthy eating and regular exercise, while the remainder continued with their usual diet and lifestyle.
Two years down the line, 15 per cent of those in the healthy lifestyle group had developed osteoarthritis in the knee, compared to 20 per cent of those who continued as normal.
British experts welcomed the results of the study, which is due to be published later this year.
Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, told the Daily Express: "This chimes very much with our research, which shows that compared with someone of normal weight, an obese person is 14 times more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis.
"Losing weight, however modest, when combined with exercise, is a panacea at every stage."
Do you suffer with osteoarthritis? Have you found that gentle exercise or weight loss has eased your symptoms? Leave your comments below...