“Most obesity research has focused on metabolic and cardiovascular outcomes such as diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, coronary heart disease, and osteoarthritis. But there is considerably less consensus on the role of obesity on the risk for low muscle mass or muscle density,” said Lead Author Ching-Ti Liu, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Biostatistics at Boston University School of Public Health, and Senior Author Douglas P. Kiel, M.D., M.P.H., Director, Musculoskeletal Research Center and Senior Scientist, Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research.
The study found that visceral adipose tissue (VAT) may represent a modifiable risk factor for poor musculoskeletal outcomes with aging.
“The study adds important new information to public health efforts to reverse the trend of the growing obesity problem in the United States and worldwide,” the authors said. “Fat that accumulates in the abdomen sometimes referred to as the ‘male pattern,’ was shown to produce less dense muscle surrounding the spine, resulting in less-effective muscle function.”
The other researchers on the study were Timothy Tsai, M.P.H., Research Software Engineer II at the Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research; Brett T. Allaire, Research Assistant III at the Center for Advanced Orthopedic Studies, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Mary L. Bouxsein, Ph.D., Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Center for Advanced Orthopedic Studies, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Marian T. Hannan, D.Sc., M.P.H., Senior Scientist, Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research; and Thomas G. Travison, Ph.D., Director of Biostatistics and Data Sciences, Co-Director of the Interventional Studies in Aging Center, Senior Scientist, Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research.
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