Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Belly Fat May Weaken Bones

Excess body fat, which is associated with many health problems including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, sleep apnea and joint diseases., may also contribute to osteoporosis.

A study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA)1 found that young premenopausal women with excessive amounts of visceral fat2are at increased risk for osteoporosis.

Miriam A. Bredella and colleagues evaluated the abdominal subcutaneous, visceral and total fat, as well as bone marrow fat and bone mineral density in 50 premenopausal women with a mean BMI of 30

They found that women with more visceral fat had increased bone marrow fat and decreased bone mineral density.

However, there was no significant correlation between either subcutaneous fat or total fat and bone marrow fat or bone mineral density.

"Our results showed that having a lot of belly fat is more detrimental to bone health than having more superficial fat or fat around the hips," Dr. Bredella said.

While bone loss is more common in women, the research team is currently conducting a study to determine whether belly fat is also a risk factor for bone loss in men.


1. Miriam A. Bredella, Martin Torriani, Reza Hosseini Ghomi, MBijoy Thomas, Anne Klibanski and Karen Miller. Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) 96th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting: Abstract SSJ17-05. Presented November 30, 2010.

2. Not all body fat is the same.

Subcutaneous fat is found just under your skin and is the noticeable type that jiggles, dimples, and causes cellulite.

Visceral fat is located deep under the muscle tissue in the abdominal cavity. It is more dangerous than subcutaneous fat because it can surround vital organs like your liver and heart, and actually produces inflammatory molecules that enter your bloodstream.

Visceral fat is linked to lower bone mineral density, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and other chronic diseases.

How do you know if you have excess visceral fat?

The problem is, you don't. While it's often referred to as "belly fat" because it can cause a "beer belly" or an apple-shaped body, you can have visceral fat even if you're thin. This is especially true if you are not exercising, as a sedentary lifestyle will promote the formation of visceral fat.

The bottom line is that you should strive for a normal weight, because the extremes of too much or too little fat are both bad for bones.

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