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Deep Belly Fat Could Weaken Men's Bones, Study Suggests
Date:11/28/2012

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Obese men with a lot of deep belly fat are at greater risk for bone-thinning than other men, a new study finds.

Although bone loss, or osteoporosis, is widely believed to be a health issue affecting women, researchers found that "visceral fat," which is located deep under the muscles in the abdomen, is linked to bone loss and decreased bone strength in men.

"Most studies on osteoporosis have focused on women. Men were thought to be relatively protected against bone loss, especially obese men," Dr. Miriam Bredella, a radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said in a news release from the Radiological Society of North America.

"It is important for men to be aware that excess belly fat is not only a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes, it is also a risk factor for bone loss," Bredella added.

In conducting the study, the researchers examined 35 men with an average age of 34 years and an average body-mass index (BMI, a measure of height and weight) of 36.5, which is considered obese. The men had a CT scan of their abdomen and thigh to measure their fat and muscle mass. They also underwent a high-resolution CT scan, known as finite element analysis (FEA), of their forearm to determine their bone strength and risk for fractures.

"FEA is a technique that is frequently used in mechanical engineering to determine the strength of materials for the design of bridges or airplanes, among other things," explained Bredella. "FEA can determine where a structure will bend or break and the amount of force necessary to make the material break. We can now use FEA to determine the strength or force necessary to make a bone break."

The study revealed that the men with more visceral and total fat in their abdomen had less bone strength than those with less abdominal fat. The researchers noted that the
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