Adiposity has a complex relationship with bone health. In 4865 Australian baby boomers (2642 females) aged 45–70 years, we found that higher visceral adipose tissue mass is associated with reduced bone density adjusting for body mass and lifestyle factors, suggesting that excess visceral fat may be deleterious to bone.
Increased body mass is associated with higher bone mineral density (BMD), but higher visceral adipose tissue (VAT) may have a negative impact on bone health. In the Busselton Healthy Ageing Study, we examined associations between VAT mass and BMD in 4865 participants (2642 females) aged 45–70 years.
VAT mass and BMD of whole body, total hip, femoral neck and lumbar spine were measured using DXA. VAT mass was examined as a continuous variable and in quartiles using sex-specific cut-offs.
The mean age was 58.0 ± 5.8 years. Males had significantly higher BMI (28.3 ± 3.7 vs 27.5 ± 4.9 kg/m2) and VAT mass (1675 ± 878 vs 882 ± 600 g) than females (both P < 0.001). In males, after adjustment for age, body mass, height and lifestyle factors, VAT mass negatively associated with total body, total hip and femoral neck BMD (β = − 0.153 to − 0.293, all P < 0.001). Males in the highest quartile of VAT mass (> 2200 g) had significantly lower BMD at all three sites than those in lower quartiles, with estimated BMD differences of 2.3–5.7% (all P < 0.05). In females, VAT mass negatively associated with total body, femoral neck and lumbar spine BMD (β = − 0.067 to − 0.178, all P < 0.05) and those in the highest quartile (> 1250 g) had significantly lower total body BMD than other quartiles (by 1.7–3.7%, all P < 0.05).
In middle-aged Australians, after covariate adjustment, higher DXA-derived VAT mass is associated with reduced bone density, suggesting that excess visceral fat may be deleterious to bone, especially in males.