Among children and adolescents, whole body fat mass and subcutaneous adipose tissue were negatively associated with radial bone strength in boys, whereas visceral adipose tissue was negatively associated with strength-strain index in girls, according to the results of a recent study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

To assess the longitudinal associations between adipose tissue and bone strength, investigators evaluated 182 girls and 167 boys age 11 to 19 years for fat and lean mass, visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue area, and android/gynoid ratio, using bone density scans. They used a strength-strain index to estimate peripheral bone strength at the radius and at the tibia.

After adjustment for lean mass in girls, fat mass and subcutaneous adipose tissue were not associated strength-strain indices. However, fat mass (P <.001) and subcutaneous adipose tissue (P =.004) were negatively associated with radial strength-strain index after adjustment for lean mass in boys.


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After fitting to linear mixed models, visceral adipose tissue was negatively associated with radial (P =.001) and tibial strength-strain indices (P =.03). No significant association between visceral adipose tissue and strength-strain index was reported for boys.

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Among obese participants, the android/gynoid ratio was negatively associated with radial strength-strain index after adjustment for lean mass in boys only (P =.02).

The study authors concluded that the results “suggest a compartment-specific influence of greater adiposity on bone and could help explain previous, inconsistent findings regarding childhood obesity and bone, as well as potential sex differences in these relationships.”

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Reference

Glass NA, Torner JC, Letuchy EM, et al. Do visceral or subcutaneous fat influence peripheral cortical bone strength during adolescence? a longitudinal study [published online October 30, 2017]. J Bone Miner Res. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.3325