Osteoporosis Symptoms - New Study Reveals Belly Fat Increases Osteoporosis Risk

A study recently announced at the yearly meeting of the Radiological Society of North America concluded that women who carried excess abdominal fat are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. The study contradicted the common belief that some excess body fat aided bone health.

“We know that obesity is a major public health problem,” said the study’s lead author, Miriam A. Bredella, M.D., a radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston. “Now we know that abdominal obesity needs to be included as a risk factor for osteoporosis and bone loss.”

The study points out that not all types of fat are equal. Visceral fat is found well under a person’s muscle tissue within their abdominal section. It was always thought to be quite perilous considering its correlation with heart disease. Subcutaneous fat exists immediately under the skin but does not seem to be correlated with osteoporosis.

Dr. Bredella and other research colleagues studied 50 premenopausal women using an MR spectroscopy exam to measure bone marrow fat in the fourth vertebra of the spine. The exams showed that women with an excess of visceral fat also had more bone marrow fat coupled with less bone density. Surprisingly, there was no connection between subcutaneous fat and bone marrow fat or bone 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.

Latest National Women’s Health Information Center figures suggest at least 10 million people in the U.S. currently have osteoporosis and another 18 million have what is termed low bone mass.

“It is important for the public to be aware that excess belly fat is a risk factor for bone loss, as well as heart disease and diabetes,” Dr. Bredella said.

Overall, loss of bone density is more prevalent in women, however, the same research group is currently studying if the presence of belly fat in men puts them at higher risk for the disease.

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