Too much visceral fat may increase a woman’s risk of developing osteoporosis, according to a study presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the RSNA.
The study tested 50 premenopausal women with a mean body mass index of 30. The women were tested for abdominal subcutaneous, visceral, and total fat, as well as bone marrow fat and bone mineral density. Bone fat was measured using MR spectroscopy of the L4 vertebra. Bone mineral density of the L4 vertebra was measured using quantitative CT.
The imaging revealed an inverse correlation between visceral fat and bone mineral density. The more visceral fat a woman had, the lower her bone mineral density. The results did not show a correlation between subcutaneous fat and total abdominal fat or bone mineral density and bone marrow fat.
Until now, it had been believed that obese women were at lower risk of developing osteoporosis and that excess body fat actually protected against bone loss.
“We know that obesity is a major public health concern,” said lead author Dr. Miriam A. Bredella, an assistant professor of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Now we know that abdominal obesity needs to be included as a risk factor for osteoporosis and bone loss.”
Based on records from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 72 million people in the U.S. are obese. To be classified obese, a person must have a body mass index of 30 or greater.