Obesity and Bone Health

A team of researchers led by Rick Lewis, professor of foods and nutrition in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, found that obesity may also be bad for bone health. Overweight people tend to have more muscle surrounding their bones than do their leaner counterparts, leading most researchers to assume that being overweight is good for bone health. But the UGA researchers found that obese people were not making as much bone as they should for the amount of muscle they had.

Lewis says the exact mechanisms by which excess fat hinders bone strength are unclear, but studies of obese rats show that they produce more fat cells in bone marrow and fewer bone cells. Because fat and bone cells derive from the same precursor, it may be that fat-cell production is favored over bone-cell production in obese people as well.

Lewis says, “Childhood obesity could have a significant and long-lasting negative impact on the skeleton.”