Credit: Thinkstock Obesity and diabetes are two diseases associated with a number of negative health consequences. A new study suggests that these two conditions may seriously harm bone health.
The study focus
Previously, studies have linked diabetes and obesity with an increased risk of bone fractures. University of Missouri researchers decided to analyze how the evolution of obesity and specifically, the development of insulin resistance (a common component of obesity), contributes to the risk of bone fractures.
The intent of the research was to help identify viable interventions to improve the bone health of individuals with obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
They also wanted to identify whether a regular fitness regimen could prevent weight gain and improve bone strength in the presence of obesity and diabetes.
Past theory debunked
It had been previously thought that having obesity was actually protective of bone, because having more body mass was linked to having more bone mass. Having more bone mass was thus associated with a lower risk of fractures and osteoporosis. But recent research has concluded that the bone of people with obesity and Type 2 diabetes is actually of poorer quality. In this case, more is not necessarily better. There is other recent science supports the current findings that extra weight does not provide a bone-protective benefit.
In this rat study, the researchers examined the bones of rats that had a predisposition to overeat, which caused obesity and insulin resistance in the rat group. The pattern of development of obesity and Type 2 diabetes was similar to the way humans develop these conditions.
Half the rats in the group were then allowed to continue to overeat and voluntarily exercise on running wheels. The other half of the group programmed to overeat were kept sedentary. A third control group of non-overeating rats were also kept sedentary. The researchers then spent time examining the bones of the rats from all three groups at different ages. Byt doing this, researchers wanted to identify how early in the development of obesity and diabetes, bone began to show thinning or a negative influence.
All three groups continued to build bone mass as they aged during the research. However, sedentary rats in the obesity group did not develop as much bone mass or density relative to their body weight and weight gain. The sedentary mice diagnosed with obesity had decreased bone formation, a loss of bone mass (density) and decreased bone strength. The rats that were overeaters and exercisers did not lose bone strength. In fact, those rats actually had stronger bones that the normal-weight, sedentary control group.
Specifically, how did the exercise benefit bone quality?
The researchers are not clear on the exact mechanism, but they suggest that these obese, active rats were healthier overall, and also had much lower rates of insulin resistance and diabetes. That alone could explain the positive bone health. Still the researchers conclude that more studies are needed to specifically identify how exercise in this case offsets bone loss. Only then can science-based interventions be developed that will offer treatment through lifestyle and behavioral changes.
Resistance training is a surefire way to maintain bone integrity
Currently, weight and resistance training and any fitness activities that involve impact (examples: jogging, running, plyometrics, and step classes) can all help to build bone mass, maintain bone mass, and limit or delay the risk of ostoporosis.
Source: Medical News Today
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