Bones of obese children may be in trouble
Studies have shown that obese children tend to have more muscle, but recent research into the relationship between muscle and bone shows that excess body fat may compromise other functions, including bone growth.
In a literature review published in Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity, lead author Joseph Kindler studied how muscle can influence different characteristics of bone geometry and strength in children.
Kindler and co-workers at the University of Georgia (UGA) pulled together previously published findings to give an up-to-date look at how muscle influences bone geometry and bone strength during youth. The role of fat in these relationships was also investigated.
Based on the research they gathered, muscle was a strong contributor to bone growth throughout childhood and adolescence; however, the relationship may differ in children with greater body fat.
“It’s a common understanding that, in children, muscle is a very strong determinant of how bone is going to grow,” said Kindler, a doctoral candidate at UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences’ department of foods and nutrition. “Obese children will tend to have more muscle, so we would suspect that they would also have larger, stronger bones.”
What researchers found during the review was less clear. The excess fat that accompanies obesity can be deposited within the muscle, and there is emerging evidence to suggest that this may have an effect on how the bone grows, according to the review. Understanding how excess fat, specifically that within the muscle, can influence the muscle and bone relationship in children is still under investigation, but there is clearly a connection, Kindler said.
Unlike the more commonly reported bone density, studies of bone geometry reveal the spatial distribution of bone and how tightly packed an individual’s bone mineral content is in his or her body, both of which give an indication of bone strength.
“This paper summarises the literature that’s been published,” said Kindler. “We know that muscle is such an important contributor to bone development, but it also shows that our understanding of how fat influences these relationships is still unclear.
“One of our major goals is to understand how obesity-related conditions, like the progression of type 2 diabetes, can influence muscle and bone growth in children,” he added.
Source: University of Georgia Today