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What Is The Impact Of Obesity On Bone Health?

First, a little background on “bone health”.  We have cells in the body called osteoblasts and these cells lay down new bone.  There are other cells in the body called osteoclasts and the role of these cells is to “eat up” old bone.  During our younger years when we are growing, the activity of the osteoblasts far exceeds osteoclast activity, hence the reason why we grow.  During the 20’s-40’s the activities of these cells balance each other and bone strength remains relatively stable.  However, starting in our 40’s and continuing year after year, osteoclast activity (bone loss) exceeds osteoblast activity (laying down new bone) and therefore our bones become weaker.

In the past, it was believed that weight bearing on bones led to “stronger” bones, hence the thoughts in the past that obesity, although hurting lots of other organs, was actually helpful forbone strength.  However, more recent studies have shown detrimental impacts on bone health when obesity is present.  The reasons why obesity negatively impacts bone health include an alteration of bone-regulating hormones, increased oxidative stress and inflammation, and altered bone cell metabolism.

For those of you that have witnessed elderly relatives having falls, breaking hips and winding up at long-term nursing facilities, you know just how devastating bone fractures can be.  Spinal bone fractures from osteoporosis also can cause a major, negative change in life as chronic back pain can be severe.  There are many reasons why we want our bone health to be as optimized as possible.

Taking the right amount of calcium and Vitamin D are helpful for bone health.  Exercise is another positive intervention.  There are a number of people with osteopenia/osteoporosis that would benefit from a prescription medication that can help reduce osteoclast activity and help build bone strength.

Have you had a recent DEXA scan to see the status of your bone health?  If not, contact your doctor to discuss this.

There are many reasons why controlling weight is so important.  Add bone health to that long list of “good stuff” that accompanies successful weight control.

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