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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2006 May;14(5):819-25.

Sex difference in the effect of puberty on the relationship between fat mass and bone mass in 926 healthy subjects, 6 to 18 years old.

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  • 1Body Composition Unit, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York, New York, USA.



Understanding factors influencing bone mineral accrual is critical to optimize peak bone mass during childhood. The epidemic of pediatric obesity and reported higher incident of fracture risk in obese children led us to study the influence of fat mass on bone mineral content (BMC) in children.


Height; weight; pubertal stage; and BMC, non-bone fat-free mass (nbFFM), and fat mass (FM) by DXA were obtained in a multiethnic group of healthy children (444 girls/482 boys; 6 to 18 years old) recruited in the New York metropolitan area. Regression techniques were used to explore the relationship between BMC and FM, with age, height, nbFFM, pubertal stage, sex, and ethnicity as covariates.


Because there were significant sex interactions, separate regression analyses were performed for girls and boys. Although ln(nbFFM) was the greatest predictor of ln(BMC), ln(FM) was also a significant predictor in prepubertal boys and all girls but not in pubertal boys. This effect was independent of ethnicity.


FM was a determinant of BMC in all girls but in only prepubertal boys. Our study confirms nbFFM as the greatest predictor of BMC but is the first to find a sex difference in the effect of puberty on the relationship of FM to BMC. Our results suggest that, in two individuals of the same sex and weight, the one with greater fat mass will have lower BMC, especially pubertal boys. The implications of these findings for achievement of optimal peak bone mass in a pediatric population with an unprecedented incidence of overweight and "overfat" status remain to be seen.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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