Being overweight or obese is never good for one’s health, but a new study claims that it raises a woman’s chance of breaking bones.
From 2009 to 2016, researchers studied 20,000 women and men between the ages of 40 and 70 in the Canadian province of Quebec. 497 women and 323 men fractured during a median follow-up of 5.8 years.
According to US News, 260 women and 155 men suffered significant osteoporotic fractures (hip, spine, wrist, or leg). 219 women and 134 males suffered leg fractures (ankle, foot, and shin). Arm fractures (wrist, forearm, or elbow) occurred in 203 people, including 141 women and 62 men.
Some fractures, such as the wrist, were classified into multiple categories.
A larger waist circumference (showing more abdominal fat) was linked to a higher incidence of fractures in women. The chance of a fracture at any site increased by 3% for every two-inch increase in waist circumference, while the risk of a leg fracture increased by 7%. The researchers discovered a link between waist circumference and ankle fractures.
A higher body mass index (BMI — a measurement of body fat based on weight and height) was linked to a higher risk of leg fractures in women.
For example, when compared to women with a BMI of 25, those with a BMI of 27.5 had a 5% higher risk, those with a BMI of 40 had a 40% higher risk, and those with a BMI of 22.5 had a 5% reduced risk.
Obesity is linked to an increased risk of fractures in women. According to the authors of a study presented at the European Congress on Obesity, held in the Netherlands from May 4 to 7, most fractures are caused by falls, which are more common in obese adults.
“In women, waist size was more significantly linked to fractures than BMI. This could be because visceral fat — metabolically active fat that is stored deep within the abdomen, wrapped around the organs — secretes compounds that weaken bones” Dr. Anne-Frederique Turcotte of the CHU de Quebec Research Centre’s endocrinology and nephrology unit in Quebec City, one of the study’s authors, said.
“We also know that obese people take longer to balance their bodies, such as when they trip,” she added in a press release announcing the conference. “This is especially true when weight is concentrated in the front of the body, suggesting that people who have a lot of body fat in the stomach area are more likely to fall.”
Higher BMI and waist circumference were not shown to be associated with fractures in men. However, underweight men had twice the risk of arm fractures as those of average weight.
“Our discovery that obesity, particularly abdominal obesity, is associated with an increased incidence of fractures in women has substantial public health implications,” Turcotte stated.
“We know that people who are obese and have a fracture are more likely to have additional health problems, which can delay rehabilitation, increase the risk of postoperative complications, and lead to malunion (fractures that don’t heal properly),” she continued.