Is Belly One of the Osteoporosis Risk Factors in Women?

Nearly 72 million American are obese according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though this physical condition is associated with several ailments, the possibility of it being a risk factor for developing osteoporosis, in women especially; was considered low until now. But, researchers at the Harvard Medical School are of the opinion that abdominal obesity must be included as one of the threats to bone health. The study was presented at the yearly meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Is Abdominal Obesity One of the Osteoporosis Risk Factors in Women?

  • The fat present beneath the skin is known as the subcutaneous fat while the fat present in the muscle tissue of the abdominal cavity is known as the visecral fat.
  • Excess presence of the latter type of fat is governed by factors like genetics, diet and exercise.
  • As a part of the research, the experts evaluated the former and latter types of fat, total fat, bone marrow fat and bone mineral density in 50 obese premenopausal women.
  • Diagnostic techniques like MR spectroscopy exam and quantitative computed tomography (QCT) were carried out on all the participants.
  • The study revealed that those women with high levels of visceral fat have more fat in their bone marrow and less mineral density in their bone.
  • No significant relation was found to exist between subcutaneous fat, total fat, bone marrow fat or bone mineral density.
  • It was learnt that belly fat is harmful for the bone health compared to fat around the hips or superficial fat.


10 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis according to the National Women’s Health Information Center. More than 18 million people have low bone mass which increases the risk for the disease. The researchers stressed upon the need of awareness in general public on the Osteoporosis risk factors through their study’s outcome. Their further research is focused on exploring the nexus between belly fat and risk factor for bone loss, in men.


RSNA press release

CDC stats on overweight and obesity, 2012

National Women’s health information center regarding osteoporosis:

Am J Clin Nutr.2011 Oct;94(4):1063-70. Epub 2011 Aug 24. http://www.ajcn.org/content/94/4/1063.abstract

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