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Osteoporos Int. 2011 Feb;22(2):655-65. doi: 10.1007/s00198-010-1266-6. Epub 2010 May 7.

Bone and fat relationships in postadolescent black females: a pQCT study.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA, USA.


Despite adolescent black females experiencing the highest rates of obesity, the effect of excess fat mass on bone structure and strength in this population is unknown. Our findings in postadolescent black females suggest that excess weight in the form of fat mass may adversely influence cortical bone structure and strength.


Although adolescent obesity has been associated with reduced bone structure and strength in white females, this relationship has not been studied in adolescent black females, a population experiencing the highest rates of obesity. Our objective was to compare bone structure and strength between postadolescent black females with normal and high levels of adiposity.


Black females with ≤ 32% body fat were classified as normal body fat (NF; n = 33, aged 19.3 ± 1.3 years); females exceeding this cutoff were classified as high body fat (HF; n = 15, aged 19.0 ± 1.1 years). Using peripheral quantitative computed tomography, tibial and radial bones were scanned at the 4% (trabecular) and 20% (cortical) sites from the distal metaphyses. Fat-free soft-tissue mass (FFST) and %body fat were assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.


After controlling for either FFST or body weight, the HF vs. NF group had lower total cross-sectional area (CSA; 9-17%), cortical CSA (6-15%), and strength-strain index (SSI; 13-24%) at the cortical site of the tibia (all p < 0.05). At the cortical site of the radius, the HF vs. NF group had lower total CSA (14%, p = 0.03), cortical CSA (9%, p = 0.04), and SSI (15%, p = 0.07) after control for body weight. There were no group differences in either the FFST-adjusted cortical bone values at the radius or in the trabecular bone parameters (body weight- or FFST-adjusted) at the tibia and radius.


Consistent with our adiposity and bone data in late-adolescent white females, our findings in black females entering adulthood also suggest that obesity may adversely influence cortical bone strength.

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