obesity and bone health
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Obesity, or excessive fat accumulation, puts your health in danger. Obesity is measured by  Body Mass Index (BMI); a high BMI means high body fat which is a significant risk factor for several diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, etc. A person is considered to be obese when his/her BMI is greater than or equal to 30.1  Based on ethnicity, this number is much lower for Asians at BMI greater or equal to 25, In India, over 135 million individuals are affected by obesity. Abdominal obesity is one of the significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease in India. According to a study, the prevalence rate of obesity and central obesity, means excess fat deposition in the abdominal area, varies from 11.8 to 31.3% and 16.9 to 36.3%, respectively.[2]

Effect of obesity on bone health:

Did you know that obesity affects your bone health? High BMI is associated with greater visceral adiposity, also known as abdominal obesity, and contributes to weakening of bones.[3] According to a study, young women with more fat content may suffer from altered bone formation and stiffness with a decline in bone formation.[3]

Obese people have reduced maximum muscle strength relative to their body mass which increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis.[4] Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis that mainly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine.[5]

How obesity affects your bones?

Recent findings suggest that being obese can lead to a higher risk of low bone density and fractures.[6] In other words, being obese leads to weak bones. As bones continuously renew themselves, i.e. new bones are constantly built by the cells called osteoblasts, and the old ones get broken down by the cells called osteoclasts. Obesity can affect these cells, which results in the difference between the speed of these two processes leading to bone loss. Over a period of time, it can lead to the weakening of bones. So, people with obesity do not have good quality bone so they tend to have an increased risk of fractures. All the extra weight is not going to help or protect.[6]

To sum up, too much weight can give rise to various disorders like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease and have a severe impact on your skeletal health (bones, joints and muscles). Joints are capable of carrying a certain amount of weight and stress but putting an amount excess of weight on them can cause problems and it becomes difficult to treat those problems. Too much weight also puts pressure on the connecting tissues around joints, which are called tendons and leads to inflammation, redness, swelling and pain.[7]

What can you do?

  • Lose weight. Yes, start a good weight loss program to decrease your chances of developing arthritis or any chances of injury.[7]
  • Exercise strengthens bones, prevents weight gain and increases bone strength in people with obesity. Weight-bearing activities such as jogging and weightlifting are a good form of exercises for bones.[6]
  • Follow good eating habits to maintain a healthy weight. Keep a healthy lifestyle to prevent obesity and other diseases.[8]
  • Keep your bones healthy by including plenty of calcium and vitamin D in your diet. Physical activities such as walking, jogging and climbing stairs from your day-to-day routine can help you build strong bones and slow the process of bone loss.[9]


  1. World Health Organization. Obesity and overweight [Internet]. [cited 2018 Feb 16]. Available from: https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight
  2. Ahirwar R, Mondal PR. Prevalence of obesity in India: a systematic review. Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2019 Jan – Feb;13(1):318-21. doi: 10.1016/j.dsx.2018.08.032. Epub 2018 Sep 21.
  3. Shapses SA, Pop LC, Wang Y. Obesity is a concern for bone health with aging. Nutr Res. 2017 Mar;39:1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2016.12.010. Epub 2017 Jan 18. Review. PMID: 28385284
  4. Tomlinson DJ, Erskine RM, Morse CI, Winwood K, Onambele-Pearson G. The impact of obesity on skeletal muscle strength and structure through adolescence to old age. Biogerontology. 2016 Jun;17(3):467-83. doi: 10.1007/s10522-015-9626-4. Epub 2015 Dec 14.
  5. Mayo Clinic. Diseases and conditions. Osteoarthritis [Internet]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoarthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351925
  6. Hinton PS, Shankar K, Eaton LM, Rector RS. Obesity-related changes in bone structural and material properties in hyperphagic OLETF rats and protection by voluntary wheel running. Metabolism. 2015 Aug;64(8):905-16. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2015.04.004. Epub 2015 May 1.
  7. Kelly FB. What your weight means for your bones. (OAC community) 2013. [Internet]. Available from: https://www.obesityaction.org/community/article-library/what-your-weight-means-for-your-bones/
  8. CDC. Overweight and obesity [Internet]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/strategies/index.html
  9. Mayo Clinic. Bone health: tips to keep your bones healthy [Internet] Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/bone-health/art-20045060

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