You already know that that spare tire around your abdomen, your beloved “beer belly” as you like to call it, puts you at increase risk of sleep apnea, asthma, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. But I bet you didn’t know that it also puts osteoporosis on the list of potential future health problems as well?
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“Everyone thinks of osteoporosis as a disease of women…[but it’s] not true,” says Dr. Miriam Bredella, a radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School.
Bredella and her team of researchers monitored the body fat and Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) of a group of 35 obese men around the age of 34-years-old. Researcher split the males into two distinct groups—the first grouping carried most of their fat subcutaneously (meaning spread evenly all over the body), while the second group carried most of their fat viscerally (or packed between the inner organs around the abdominal region).
Findings revealed that those with visceral abdominal fat (the kind of fat that causes pot bellies even in thin people) had significantly weaker bones than [the subcutaneous fat] group. In fact, the bones in men with a larger proportion of visceral fat were almost twice as weak as those with subcutaneous fat.
Bredella says that the study findings show two main reasons why visceral fat leads to osteoporosis:
- Firstly, those with visceral fat secrete less human growth hormone—vital for maintaining healthy bones.
- And secondly, visceral fat secretes molecules that can lead to inflammation and weak bones.
Source: The Globe & Mail