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PLoS One. 2013 May 20;8(5):e63339. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0063339. Print 2013.

Association of weight-adjusted body fat and fat distribution with bone mineral density in middle-aged chinese adults: a cross-sectional study.

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  • 1Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Food, Nutrition and Health, School of Public Health, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, PR China.



Although it is well established that a higher body weight is protective against osteoporosis, the effects of body fat and fat distribution on bone mineral density (BMD) after adjustment for body weight remains uncertain.


To examine the relationship between body fat and fat distribution and BMD beyond its weight-bearing effect in middle-aged Chinese adults.


The study had a community-based cross-sectional design and involved 1,767 women and 698 men aged 50-75 years. The BMD of the lumbar spine, total hip, and whole body, and the fat mass (FM) and percentage fat mass (%FM) of the total body and segments of the body were measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. General information on the participants was collected using structured questionnaire interviews.


After adjusting for potential confounders, an analysis of covariance showed the weight-adjusted (WA-) total FM (or %FM) to be negatively associated with BMD in all of the studied sites (P<0.05) in both women and men. The unfavorable effects of WA-total FM were generally more substantial in men than in women, and the whole body was the most sensitive site related to FM, followed by the total hip and the lumbar spine, in both genders. The mean BMD of the lumbar spine, total hip, and whole body was 3.93%, 3.01%, and 3.65% (in women) and 5.02%, 5.57%, 6.03% (in men) lower in the highest quartile (vs. lowest quartile) according to the WA-total FM (all p<0.05). Similar results were noted among the groups for WA-total FM%. In women, abdominal fat had the most unfavorable association with BMD, whereas in men it was limb fat.


FM (or %FM) is inversely associated with BMD beyond its weight-bearing effect. Abdominal fat in women and limb fat in men seems to have the greatest effect on BMD.

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