Obesity can amplify bone and muscle loss, researchers say

April 16, 2014
Doctoral student Julia Inglis and professor Jasminka Ilich-Ernst are pictured. Credit: Florida State Photography Services/Bill Lax

Florida State University researchers have identified a new syndrome called "osteosarcopenic obesity" that links the deterioration of bone density and muscle mass with obesity.

"It used to be the thinking that the heavier you were the better your bones would be because the bones were supporting more weight," said Jasminka Ilich-Ernst, the Hazel Stiebeling Professor of Nutrition at Florida State. "But, that's only true to a certain extent."

The syndrome, outlined in the May issue of Ageing Research Reviews, explains how many obese individuals experience a triad of problems that place them at a higher risk for falling and breaking bones.

Ilich-Ernst began looking at the connections between bone, muscle and fat mass a few years ago, realizing that most scientists were examining bone issues without taking into consideration muscle mass and strength, let alone .

"Many factors impact bones," she said. "This developed as a logical way to move forward to look at everything together and not just focus on one area."

So, she went back and examined the files for 200 women who'd participated in previous studies where she'd measured their bone density, muscle mass and fat tissue for different reasons. About one-third had more than 30 percent fat tissue, plus declining bone density (osteopenia) and muscle mass (sarcopenia).

"This would be a triad problem for ," Ilich-Ernst said. "They cannot perform as well. They cannot walk as fast. They cannot walk the stairs well or stand up and sit down multiple times without being winded or in pain."

People do tend to gain weight and lose both and with age, Ilich-Ernst acknowledged. But substantial gain in body can make the muscle and bone problems even worse.

"They have a higher risk of falling and breaking a bone or encountering other disabilities," she said.

Ilich-Ernst said the problem is most prevalent with older women, but that it could impact all ages and genders.

Overall, she said she hopes the research reminds people to consider the damage that can be done to all parts of the body if they are overweight.

"Everything is connected," she said.

Explore further: Fat in organs and blood may increase risk of osteoporosis

Related Stories

Fat in organs and blood may increase risk of osteoporosis

July 16, 2013
Excess fat around the belly has recently been identified as a risk factor for bone loss. Now, a new study has determined that excess liver and muscle fat also may be detrimental to bone.

Man power lost as obesity grows, study finds

December 18, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—As men get fatter their bones and muscles get weaker, a Deakin University study has found.

Researchers find physical activity in youth leads to stronger bones in old age

March 25, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers with members from the U.S. and Australia has found that people who exercise when young tend to increase the size and strength of their bones, which appears to make for lifelong benefits. ...

New study links healthy muscle mass to healthy bones, finds differences by gender

June 20, 2012
Researchers have long been aware that the progressive loss of muscle mass and bone density is a natural part of aging. But little work has investigated how muscle tissue affects the inner and outer layers of bone microstructure. ...

Keep on exercising, researchers advise older breast cancer survivors

December 9, 2013
To build and maintain muscle strength, it is best for older breast cancer survivors to follow an ongoing exercise program of resistance and impact training. This advice comes from Jessica Dobek of the Oregon Health and Science ...

Growth hormone increases bone formation in obese women

November 29, 2011
In a new study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), growth hormone replacement for six months was found to increase bone formation in abdominally obese women.

Recommended for you

Study finds 90 percent of American men overfat

July 24, 2017
Does your waist measure more than half your height?

Are sugary drink interventions changing people's behaviour?

July 19, 2017
An evaluation of efforts designed to reduce how many sugary drinks we consume shows some success in changing younger people's habits but warns they cannot be the only way to cut consumption.

Young adult obesity: A neglected, yet essential focus to reverse the obesity epidemic

July 18, 2017
The overall burden of the U.S. obesity epidemic continues to require new thinking. Prevention of obesity in young adults, while largely ignored as a target for prevention and study, will be critical to reversing the epidemic, ...

Weight gain from early to middle adulthood may increase risk of major chronic diseases

July 18, 2017
Cumulative weight gain over the course of early and middle adulthood may increase health risks later in life, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They found that, compared ...

Study finds children carry implicit bias towards peers who are overweight

June 23, 2017
Even children as young as 9 years old can carry a prejudice against their peers who are overweight, according to a new study led by Duke Health researchers. They might not even realize they feel this way.

Mother's obesity boosts risk for major birth defects: study

June 15, 2017
Children of obese women are more likely to be afflicted by major birth defects, including malformations of the heart and genitals, according to a study published on Thursday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.