Weight loss linked to bone loss
New research suggests that weight loss in middle-age could be linked to bone loss – particularly for women.
Research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston analyzed data from a large weight loss study which looked at 424 people between the ages of 30 and 70 who were either overweight or obese at the beginning of the study. About 60 percent were women. Participants were randomly assigned one of four low-calorie diets – two of which were considered high-protein, and two of which were considered average amounts of protein.
Participants were given bone density measurements of the spine and hip at the beginning of the study, at six months into the study, and again after two years.
The findings, which were published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, found that men lost an average of eight percent of their body weight, and women lost an average of 6.4 percent. While the weight loss rates were comparable, postmenopausal women also lost spine and hip bone density compared to the men, who actually gained spine and hip bone density. The premenopausal women subjects showed only hip-bone loss.
Additionally, menopausal women that lost abdominal fat (the kind linked to heart disease and diabetes) showed a strong link to bone loss. Bone loss was also linked to the amount of lean muscle mass a person lost. Lean mass is important for supporting skeletal health.
Men lost more fat mass than lean mass compared to women.
Postmenopausal women showed a loss of lean mass and fat mass along with bone density loss.
While more research is needed to better understand the sex differences in bone loss, these findings highlight the importance of protecting skeletal health through weight loss. Weight loss is important and beneficial for a variety of health conditions including cardiovascular health, but women who are trying to lose weight should consider supplementing with calcium and vitamin D to reduce incidental bone density loss.