Is adiposity advantageous for bone strength? A peripheral quantitative computed tomography study in late adolescent females

Norman K. Pollock, Emma M. Laing, Clifton A. Baile, Mark W. Hamrick, Daniel B. Hall, Richard D. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


Background: Whereas excess adiposity is presumed to be advantageous for the skeleton, studies investigating relations between bone strength and fat during youth have been equivocal. Objectives: Relations of percentage body fat (BF) and bone strength indexes were assessed in late adolescent females, taking into consideration surrogates of muscle force [ie, muscle cross-sectional area (MCSA) and bone length]. Bone measurements in the normal- and high-fat groups were also compared. Design: Late adolescent females (n = 115; aged 18.2 ± 0.4 y) participated in this cross-sectional study. Fat-free soft tissue mass, fat mass, and percentage BF were measured with the use of dualenergy X-ray absorptiometry. Tibial and radial peripheral quantitative computed tomography measurements were taken at the 4% (trabecular bone), 20% (cortical bone), and 66% (for measurement of MCSA) sites from the distal metaphyses. Results: Percentage BF was inversely related to radial cortical bone area, total bone cross-sectional area (CSA), cortical bone mineral content (BMC), periosteal circumference, and strength-strain index (SSI) (20% site; all P < 0.05). After control for MCSA and limb length, negative relations remained between percentage BF and radial measurements and were also observed at the tibia (20% site). Unadjusted bone measures were not different between groups. After control for MCSA, the high- compared with the normal-fat group had lower bone measures at the 20% site (cortical bone area and cortical BMC at the tibia, total bone CSA at the radius, and SSI at both the tibia and radius; P < 0.05 for all). Conclusion: Excess weight in the form of fat mass does not provide additional benefits, and may potentially be negative, for adolescent bone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1530-1538
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2007


  • Body composition
  • Bone strength
  • Late adolescent
  • Obesity
  • PQCT
  • Peripheral quantitative computed tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Is adiposity advantageous for bone strength? A peripheral quantitative computed tomography study in late adolescent females'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this