Actually Not Big Boned

Too Much Belly Fat Contributes to Osteoporosis

According to a new study, having too much abdominal fat (specifically visceral fat, located deep under the muscle) has a damaging effect on bone health, contributing to osteoporosis. Previous studies have also shown that having too much abdominal fat specifically increases your risk for heart disease. But the new finding about belly fat's impact on bone health is news to the medical community. Muffin tops AND soft bones. Great.

Researchers conducted the study on obese premenopausal women, examining each woman's bone marrow fat and bone mineral density. They found that women with more visceral abdominal fat had increased bone marrow fat and decreased bone mineral density. Their total body fat, however, was not significantly correlated with bone marrow fat or bone mineral density.

The study's lead author, Miriam Bredella, M.D., sums it up: "Having a lot of belly fat is more detrimental to bone health than having more superficial fat or fat around the hips." By that logic, J. Lo's bones must be squeaky clean...

But let's be clear here: being obese, even if the fat isn't heavily concentrated in the abdominal area, has plenty of detrimental health effects. Obesity can lead to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, sleep apnea and joint diseases. This should be a wakeup call, especially since 72 million American adults are classified as obese.

According to the National Women's Health Information Center, 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and an additional 18 million have low bone mass, meaning they're at risk.

Getting enough calcium and vitamin D is known to decrease your risk of osteoporosis. Now we can add dropping the belly fat to that list.

Radiological Society of North America (2010, November 30). Belly fat puts women at risk for osteoporosis, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from­ /releases/2010/11/101130100355.htm


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Avital commented
I've heard that more than one inch of belly fat is not healthy...In general, are there any rules that can apply to how much belly fat based on weight and height puts women at risk for osteoporosis?