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Bone structure at risk in obese children

Children under the age of 18 with increased fat mass have compromised bone growth. A recent literature review has found that fat deposited within muscle may have an effect on how bones grow. Joseph Kindler, the study’s lead author, gathered existing research into the effects of muscle and fat mass on bone geometry (the spatial distribution of bone and how dense bone materials are in the body). It is already known that fatter children tend to have more muscle mass, as the body needs to move larger amounts of weight, so needs to be stronger. This study found that increased muscle mass in children will subsequently increase bone growth.

However, the study also discovered that the fat found in obesity is deposited within muscles. The effect of this fat is still being investigated; however it is clear that there is a connection with bone growth, which is possibly negative. A reduction in strength, such as the one seen, could lead to an increased risk of fractures in these children and adolescents. Overall the paper stresses that whilst an increased muscle mass is most likely beneficial for bone geometry, an increased muscle mass accompanied with an increased fat mass may actually be harmful; more research needs to be conducted into this area in order to fully understand the complex mechanisms of bone growth and fat influence.

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