Overweight women have stronger bones, according to conventional wisdom. But a new study suggests that that’s wrong.
Scientists looked at 40 healthy Caucasian premenopausal women aged 18 to 48. Half of them were normal weight and half were overweight or obese. The researchers took bone scans and biopsies and measured the women’s “trunk” fat. That’s the percent of the torso that’s composed of fat tissue (rather than lean tissue, which includes muscle, bone, organs, etc.). Trunk fat is a good indicator of belly fat.
The women with the most trunk fat (average weight: 178 pounds) had poorer bone quality than those with the least trunk fat (average weight: 134 pounds). That is, their bones were more porous and less stiff. And the rate at which they formed new bone was 64 percent lower.
What to do: This study can’t prove that belly fat causes weaker bones. Among the reasons: it’s possible that the normal-weight women had stronger bones because they did more exercise. Nevertheless, avoiding weaker bones may be one more reason—along with reducing your risk of diabetes and heart disease—to minimize excess belly fat.
Source: J. Clin. Endocrin. Metab. 2013. doi:10.1210/jc.2013-1047.
Other relevant links:
- Older people may have excess body fat even if they’re not overweight. See: Waist Matters More than Weight as We Age
- Fructose eaters gain more abdominal fat than those who eat glucose. See: Sugar and Visceral Fat
- Excess body weight is the strongest risk factor for diabetes. See: Diabetes and Diet: How Too Much Body Fat Can Lead to Insulin Resistance