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Nutrients. 2017 May 17;9(5). pii: E506. doi: 10.3390/nu9050506.

Fat, Sugar, and Bone Health: A Complex Relationship.

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Laboratory of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Endocrinology, State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy and cancer center, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610041, Sichuan, China.
Laboratory of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Endocrinology, State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy and Cancer center, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, No. 37 Guoxue Xiang, Chengdu 610041, Sichuan, China.


With people aging, osteoporosis is expected to increase notably. Nutritional status is a relatively easily-modified risk factor, associated with many chronic diseases, and is involved in obesity, diabetes, and coronary heart disease (CHD), along with osteoporosis. Nutrients, such as fats, sugars, and proteins, play a primary function in bone metabolism and maintaining bone health. In Western nations, diets are generally high in saturated fats, however, currently, the nutritional patterns dominating in China continue to be high in carbohydrates from starch, cereals, and sugars. Moreover, high fat or high sugar (fructose, glucose, or sucrose) impart a significant impact on bone structural integrity. Due to diet being modifiable, demonstrating the effects of nutrition on bone health can provide an approach for osteoporosis prevention. Most researchers have reported that a high-fat diet consumption is associated with bone mineral density (BMD) and, as bone strength diminishes, adverse microstructure changes occur in the cancellous bone compartment, which is involved with lipid metabolism modulation disorder and the alteration of the bone marrow environment, along with an increased inflammatory environment. Some studies, however, demonstrated that a high-fat diet contributes to achieving peak bone mass, along with microstructure, at a younger age. Contrary to these results, others have shown that a high-fructose diet consumption leads to stronger bones with a superior microarchitecture than those with the intake of a high-glucose diet and, at the same time, research indicated that a high-fat diet usually deteriorates cancellous bone parameters, and that the incorporation of fructose into a high-fat diet did not aggravate bone mass loss. High-fat/high-sucrose diets have shown both beneficial and detrimental influences on bone metabolism. Combined, these studies showed that nutrition exerts different effects on bone health. Thus, a better understanding of the regulation between dietary nutrition and bone health might provide a basis for the development of strategies to improve bone health by modifying nutritional components.


bone metabolism; bone microstructure; glucose; high fructose; high-fat diet; sucrose

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Li Tian and Xijie Yu declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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