November 29, 2012 9:29 am
Updated: March 11, 2013 3:00 pm

Men with belly fat at risk for osteoporosis: study

For years men have been warned about excess belly fat, which is a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease. But a new study adds that visceral fat also puts men at a higher risk for osteoporosis.

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TORONTO – For years, men have been warned about excess belly
fat, a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease.

But a new study adds that visceral fat – that is, deep belly
fat – also puts men at a higher risk for osteoporosis.

Up until now, the majority of studies on osteoporosis have
focused on women. “Men were thought to be relatively protected against bone
loss, especially obese men,” said Dr. Miriam Bredella, associate professor of

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radiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become thin
and weak, leading to an increased risk of fractures.

In the study, which was presented Wednesday at the annual
meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, researchers evaluated 35
obese men with an average body mass index (BMI) of 36.5.

Bredella and her team assessed the bone strength, fat and
muscle mass of each man, and predicted their risk for bone fractures.

They found that men with higher visceral fat had “lower failure
load and stiffness,” two measures of bone strength.

They were surprised to find that men with a similar BMI but
lower visceral fat had significantly higher bone strength.

Not all fat is the same, noted researchers. Excess belly fat
is considered particularly dangerous due in part with its association with an
increased risk of heart disease.

About osteoporosis

According to Osteoporosis Canada, osteoporosis is
responsible for 80 per cent of bone fractures in people 50 years and older.

Twenty-eight per cent of women and 37 per cent of men who
fracture a hip will die within the following year.

The organization says the best defence against developing
osteoporosis is by building strong bones throughout childhood and adolescence.

Preventing osteoporosis

Health officials recommend the following for preventing bone
loss:

  • Get regular physical exercise including strength
    training and weight-bearing exercises
  • Ensure you are getting adequate daily doses of
    calcium and vitamin D
  • Do not smoke

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