Big hips are apparently better from a health perspective than a spare tire. We already knew there was an association between visceral fat (belly fat) and heart disease. Now it appears that this visceral fat can also be a contributor to osteoporosis as well.
According to a study presented to the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) excessive belly fat can decrease bone density. Women who had more visceral fat had less bone mineral density and more bone marrow fat.
A bone mineral density test measures the amounts of calcium and other minerals in a section of bone. This test is one of several used to evaluate the risk of bone fractures and the possible presence or potential of osteoporosis.
Bone marrow fat refers to the amount of fat accumulated in the bone. Measuring bone marrow fat and bone mineral density is a predictor of weakening bones.
Testing both is more effective than either tested alone. The ratio of bone marrow fat to bone mineral density is higher in healthy people and lower in those with weakened bones.
A study from Georgetown University Hospital in Washington DC demonstrated that high bone marrow fat is a marker for bone weakening. This study was reported in the December 15, 2004 issue of Science Daily.
Visceral fat is also known as intra-abdominal fat. It is found underneath muscle tissue in the abdominal cavity. The amount of visceral fat stored there is affected by diet, exercise and heredity.
This belly fat is also associated with metabolic syndrome which encompasses cardiovascular disease, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and low HDL (good) cholesterol. Obesity is also associated with asthma, high LDL (bad) cholesterol, joint disease and sleep apnea.
Subcutaneous fat is the tissue under your layers of skin, containing fat and blood vessels. This fat acts as a cushion against any trauma, and is a source of energy during times of activity. Subcutaneous fat as well as total fat don't seem to have a correlation to the levels of bone marrow fat or bone mineral density.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines obesity as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.