Women who had more visceral fat, meaning fat around the mid-section, were more likely to have a lower bone mineral density. In addition, an association between visceral fat and the levels of bone marrow fat was noted.
"Visceral fat is deep belly fat, and it's been found to be bad for heart disease and diabetes. This type of fat releases fatty acids into the liver, and it also releases other substances and hormones that have an effect on the heart and the pancreas, and also probably on bones," said Bredella. "But, we don't know exactly what it is in visceral fat that causes problems."
As for the increase in bone marrow fat, "a lot of bone marrow fat makes the bone weak," Bredella said.
"This study is more bad news for obesity. The one good thing we thought obesity might do -- protect the bones -- isn't true," she added.
"This is a fascinating study that raises interesting and important questions," said Dr. Judi Chervenak, an associate clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women's health at Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.
"Being a healthy weight and trying to control visceral obesity is becoming important from so many different angles," she stated. "You need to make lifestyle changes that focus on overall health and wellness, and exercise is very important for helping prevent osteoporosis and other illnesses. If you haven't been moving, just try to get out and go for a walk. Ideally, you'll work up to regular exercise, but get out and get some exercise," she advised.
Bredella said the researchers are currently studying fat distribution and bone mineral density in men to see if the patterns hold true for both sexes.
All rights reserved