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Osteoarthritis Healthy Weight for Life Program

A specialised program that combines weight loss, lower limb muscle strengthening and pain management strategies to help Bupa customers with knee and hip osteoarthritis to improve joint mobility and improve pain management.

Eligible Bupa health insurance members can participate in this program at no extra charge.

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What is the Osteoarthritis Healthy Weight for Life Program?

Every year many people with osteoarthritis undergo knee or hip replacement surgery that may have been avoided if non-surgical management methods had been trialled early on (where appropriate). Weight reduction and exercise are key ways to help reduce pressure on the joints and may help some people avoid or delay surgery.

We’ve partnered with Prima Health Solutions to offer eligible Bupa customers the Osteoarthritis Healthy Weight for Life program (OAHWFL). The program has been developed in collaboration with leading Australian and international medical and physiotherapy experts, and integrates weight loss, muscle strengthening and pain management in an 18-week program made up of 3 phases:

Phase 1: Motivational weight loss with very low-calorie diet (KicStart VLCD) meal replacement
Phase 2: Consolidation weight loss for 6 weeks
Phase 3: Weight maintenance

The program delivers online education modules, phone and web-based support, personalised coaching and goal setting, GP communications, and post-program follow up.

Why we offer this program

Osteoarthritis (OA) is inflammation of a joint that causes pain, stiffness and limits movement. It mainly affects the hips, knees, hands and spine and it worsens over time. Causes of OA include older age, being obese (added weight puts extra stress on joints), and joint injuries/damage.

Up to 95% of all hip and knee replacements are due to osteoarthritis, and the number of replacements is likely to increase in future due to factors including an ageing population, rising rates of obesity, and the lack of any imminent medical breakthrough on the horizon. One in 7 Australians having a hip or knee replacement is a Bupa customer.

Guidelines recommend that OA is conservatively managed by taking medicines, staying active, and controlling modifiable risk factors like obesity by maintaining a healthy weight. Clinical studies have found that managing osteoarthritis by achieving a healthy weight can help improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis (e.g. pain), and improve function, and the greater the weight loss, the greater the improvement.

What does the program deliver for our customers?

Customer preferences
and choice

On the program, you will receive:

  • An eating plan including very low-calorie diet (VLCD) meal replacement products
  • An exercise and activity plan to help you reduce pain and improve strength, balance and mobility


Access to quality evidence-based care
  • Eligible Bupa customers with osteoarthritis are invited to participate in this specialised guideline-based 18-week program that combines weight loss, muscle strengthening and pain management
  • You will be assessed by a clinician to determine the type of program that is suitable for you
  • To be eligible, you must have paid-up Bupa Hospital cover, including joint replacement cover, and have served relevant waiting periods
  • There are no out of pocket costs if you are eligible


Supporting health & care needs
  • Provides non-surgical management of hip & knee OA for those at risk of joint replacement
  • Support is individualised and tailored to meet your needs and goals
  • You will receive personalised online or telephone coaching for motivation, support and advice about:
    • lifestyle habits to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle
    • pain management strategies
    • improving strength, and fitness for joint replacement surgery (if required)
    • preparing for post-surgery rehabilitation (where applicable)

Want to find out more?


If you would like to talk to us about this program, or another Member Health Support program, please contact Bupa TeleHealth on 1300 030 238, Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm AEST.

If you would like us to contact you about whether you may be eligible for this program, or for another Member Health Support program, please complete the Member Health Support Form.


Mayo Clinic. 2018 Osteoarthritis. Available from:

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 2017 Treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: An update review. Comparative Effectiveness Review. Number 190. AHRQ Publication No. 17-EHC011-EF

Atukorala I et al. 2016 Is there a dose-response relationship between weight loss and system improvement in persons with knee osteoarthristis? Arthritis Care & Research. Vol. 68(8): 1106–1114.