The effect of childhood obesity on bone accrual during growth is unclear.
In this study, researchers from Philadelphia assessed the effect of childhood obesity on skeletal mass and dimensions relative to height, body composition, and maturation.
The team evaluated 132 non-obese and 103 obese subjects aged 4 to 20 years.
They determined whole-body and vertebral bone mineral content (BMC) using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. They also measured bone area, areal bone mineral density (BMD), and fat and lean masses.
The team estimated vertebral volumetric BMD as BMC/area1.5.
The researchers found that obesity was associated with greater height-for-age, advanced maturation for age, and greater lean mass for height.
They also determined that obesity was associated with greater vertebral areal BMD for height, greater volumetric BMD, and greater vertebral BMC for bone area.
Following adjustment for maturation and lean mass, the team found that obesity was associated with significantly greater whole-body bone area and BMC for age and height.
Dr Mary Leonard and colleagues concluded, "In contrast with the results of prior studies, obesity during childhood and adolescence was associated with increased vertebral bone density and increased whole-body bone dimensions and mass".
"These differences persisted after adjustment for obesity-related increases in height, maturation, and lean mass".
"Future studies are needed to determine the effect of these differences on fracture risk".