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Weight changes associated with reduced bone strength.

BOSTON — Researchers from Hebrew SeniorLife’s Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research, Boston University, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and University of Calgary have found evidence that weight loss can result in worsening bone density, bone architecture and bone strength. The results were published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

Douglas P. Kiel, MD, MPH, principal investigator for the study said, “The study is significant because it used data on weight changes over 40 years in participants in the Framingham Study. We showed that men and women with both shorter term weight loss over 4-6 years and longer term weight loss over 40 years had more micro-architectural deterioration of their bones than persons who did not lose weight.”

The magnitude of changes to the skeleton were clinically significant and translated into an almost three-fold increase in the risk of fracture for those who lost 5% or more weight over 40 years.

Elizabeth (Lisa) Samelson, PhD, senior author of the paper cautioned that “Older adults who are losing weight should be aware of the potential negative effects on the skeleton and may want to consider counteracting these effects through interventions such as weight-bearing exercise and eating a balanced diet. Given that weight loss is highly common in older adults, further work is needed to evaluate if these bone deficits can be prevented through interventions or therapy.”

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Arthritis Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01AR061445. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

About Marcus Institute

Scientists at the Marcus Institute seek to transform the human experience of aging by conducting research that will ensure a life of health, dignity and productivity into advanced age. The Institute carries out rigorous studies that discover the mechanisms of age-related disease and disability; lead to the prevention, treatment and cure of disease; advance the standard of care for older people; and inform public decision-making. The Musculoskeletal Center within Marcus Institute studies conditions affecting bone, muscle, and joint health with aging.

About Hebrew SeniorLife

Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, is a national senior services leader uniquely dedicated to rethinking, researching and redefining the possibilities of aging. Based in Boston, the non-profit, non-sectarian organization has provided communities and health care for seniors, research into aging, and education for geriatric care providers since 1903. For more information about Hebrew SeniorLife, visit http://www.hebrewseniorlife.org, follow us on Twitter @H_SeniorLife, like us on Facebook or read our blog.