A new study from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School has found that having too much internal abdominal fat may, in fact, have a damaging effect on bone health.
To investigate, researchers 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.
Subcutaneous fat lies just below the skin, and visceral or intra-abdominal fat is located deep under the muscle tissue in the abdominal cavity. Genetics, diet and exercise are all contributors to the level of visceral fat that is stored in the body. Excess visceral fat is considered particularly dangerous, because in previous studies it has been associated with increased risk for heart disease.
Researchers found that women with more visceral fat had increased bone marrow fat and decreased bone mineral density. In other words, researchers report that having a lot of belly fat is more detrimental to bone health than having more superficial fat or fat around the hips.
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.
According to Statistics Canada, nearly a quarter of Canadians aged 18 or older, an estimated 5.5 million adults, have a body mass index of 30 or more, indicating that they were obese.
While Osteoporosis Canada reports that 1 in 4 women and at least 1 in 8 men over 50 have osteoporosis, meaning almost 2 millions Canadians are living with the disease. Known risk factors for the disease include age, family history, use of glucocorticoid drugs and medical conditions that inhibit absorption of nutrients.
For more information osteoporosis, please visit Osteoporosis Canada.
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