South African Medical Journal

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Body fat distribution as a risk factor for osteoporosis

Renee Blaauw, Eisa C. Albertse, Stephen Hough


Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the body fat distribution of patients with osteoporosis (GP) with that of an appropriately matched non-GP control group. Design: Case control study. Setting: Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Tygerberg Hospital. Participants: A total of 56 patients with histologicatly proven idiopathic GP, of whom 39 were women (mean age 61 ± 11 years) and 17 men (49 ± 15 years), were compared with 125 age- and sex-matched non-OP (confirmed by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) subjects, 98 women (60 ± 11 years) and 27 men (51 ± 16 years). Outcome measures: Anthropometric data, including weight, height, skinfold measurements, mid-upper arm, waist and hip circumferences, as well as elbow breadth. Results: The men and women with OP were significantly shorter (P = 0.04 and P = 0.03 respectively) and of lower body mass (P = 0.04 and P = 0.02 respectively) than the control subjects, although their mean body mass indices were comparable. The OP population had significantly lower skinfold, elbow breadth and ann circumference values, although the majority of subjects in both groups fell within the 15 - 85th percentiles. Despite their lower body mass, both the OP women (P = 0.009) and men (P =0.002) had significantly higher waist/hip ratios than corresponding controls. Conclusion: Whatever the underlying pathogenesis, this new finding suggests that, should these results be confirmed by larger studies, OP can be added to the list of diseases associated with a waist fat distribution.

S Afr Med J 1996; 86: 1081-1084

AJOL African Journals Online