(HealthDay News) – For obese men, visceral fat is a risk factor for reduced bone strength, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, held from Nov. 25–30 in Chicago.

Miriam Bredella, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted a study involving 35 obese men (mean age, 33.8 years; mean body mass index [BMI], 36.5kg/m²) to examine determinants of bone mechanical properties. The men underwent computed tomography of the abdomen and thigh to quantify abdominal subcutaneous (SAT), visceral (VAT), and total adipose tissue (TAT), as well as thigh muscle and thigh SAT. Finite element analysis was used to assess bone strength (failure load and stiffness) and predict fracture risk.

The researchers found that, despite having similar BMIs, men with higher VAT had a significantly lower failure load and stiffness than men with low VAT. There were significant inverse correlations for VAT and TAT with estimated failure load and stiffness. A positive correlation was observed for thigh muscle area with failure load and stiffness. No association was seen between age, BMI, abdominal or thigh SAT and mechanical properties.

“We were not surprised by our results that abdominal and visceral fat are detrimental to bone strength in obese men,” Bredella said in a statement. “We were, however, surprised that obese men with a lot of visceral fat had significantly decreased bone strength compared to obese men with low visceral fat but similar BMI.”

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