Bone structure and volumetric BMD in overweight children: A longitudinal study

Rachel J. Wetzsteon, Moira A. Petit, Heather M. Macdonald, Julie M. Hughes, Thomas J. Beck, Heather A. McKay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


The effect of excess body fat on bone strength accrual is not well understood. Therefore, we assessed bone measures in healthy weight (HW) and overweight (OW) children. Children (9-11 yr) were classified as HW (n = 302) or OW (n = 143) based on body mass index. We assessed total (ToD) and cortical (CoD) volumetric BMD and bone area, estimates of bone strength (bone strength index [BSI]; stress-strain index [SSIp]), and muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) at the distal (8%), midshaft (50%), and proximal (66%) tibia by pQCT. We used analysis of covariance to compare bone outcomes at baseline and change over 16 mo. At baseline, all bone measures were significantly greater in OW compared with HW children (+4-15%; p ≤ 0.001), with the exception of CoD at the 50% and 66% sites. Over 16 mo, ToA increased more in the OW children, whereas there was no difference for change in BSI or ToD between groups at the distal tibia. At the tibial midshaft, SSIp was similar between groups at baseline when adjusted for muscle CSA, but low when adjusted for body fat in the OW group. At both sites, bone strength increased more in OW because of a greater increase in bone area. Changes in SSIp were associated with changes in lean mass (r = 0.70, p < 0.001) but not fat mass. In conclusion, although OW children seem to be at an advantage in terms of absolute bone strength, bone strength did not adapt to excess body fat. Rather, bone strength was adapted to the greater muscle area in OW children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1946-1953
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • BMD
  • Bone strength
  • Children
  • Obesity
  • pQCT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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