Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Obesity in adolescence may cause permanent bone loss

Public Release: 21-Nov-2016
Obesity in adolescence may cause permanent bone loss
Radiological Society of North America

Teenagers who are obese may be doing irreparable damage to their bones, according to a new study being presented next week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Obesity in childhood and adolescence is associated with a number of health risks, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. For the new study, researchers are looking at how excess weight may affect bone structure.

"While obesity was previously believed to be protective of bone health, recent studies have shown a higher incidence of forearm fractures in obese youths," said the study's lead author, Miriam A. Bredella, M.D., radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston.


"There are several mechanisms by which visceral fat exerts negative effects on bone," Dr. Bredella said. "Visceral fat secretes substances that promote chronic inflammation, and chronic inflammation stimulates formation of osteoclasts, which are the cells that resorb or break-down bone. In addition, vitamin D, which is important for bone health, is soluble in adipose tissue and gets trapped within fat cells."

She noted that growth hormone, which is important for bone health, is also lower in adolescents with visceral obesity.


The findings suggest that having a high amount of visceral fat coupled with a low amount of muscle mass puts adolescents at risk for weakened bone structure.

"The best way to prevent bone loss is a healthy diet that contains adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, along with sufficient exercise, as we have shown in our study that muscle mass is good for bone health," Dr. Bredella said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity has more than quadrupled in adolescents over the past 30 years. It is estimated that more than one-third of children and adolescents in the U.S. are overweight or obese.

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