Children with less body fat may build bone better

June 30, 2009 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News

Children with less body fat may build bone better

New research from the University of South Dakota shows that a child with leaner body mass builds bigger bones than a child who weighs the same but has a greater proportion of fat to muscle.

To study fat mass versus lean mass as a factor in bone development, these researchers gathered two to three measurements over a 3-year period on 350 boys and girls ages 8 to 18.

Because all the children were still growing, all participants showed increases in bone mass, bone surface area and bone mineral density but there were clear differences in the rates of change.

Children with higher lean mass (i.e. more muscle) tended to have greater rates of change in bone growth while kids with higher fat mass tended to have slower rates of bone growth changes.

"A larger child is going to have larger bones just because he's heavier," explains the study author. "But if you have two kids at the same weight, the one whose weight is dominated by fat is more likely to have smaller, weaker bones than the one whose weight is dominated by lean muscle mass."

This is the first study to suggest that lean mass may have a positive effect on bone in school-aged children and may have an impact on health issues such as childhood obesity and the subsequent influence on adult disorders such as osteoporosis.

In Canada, in 2004, over one-quarter of children aged 2 to 17 were classified as overweight or obese based on their body mass index.

This study was presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Baltimore in May 2009.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.