Morbidly obese women are at increased risk of breaking or breaking their leg bones if they trip and fall, research presented at an obesity conference suggests.
Scientists at the Quebec Research Center, in Canada, conducted a large-scale study in which they found that women with the most severe cases of obesity were about 40 percent more likely to damage a leg bone during the study than women of a healthy size, the greatest risk of any group.
dr. Anne-Frederique Turcotte, an epidemiologist who led the study, suggested this could be because taller women had more “difficulty stabilizing,” putting them at greater risk of falling. She added that fat also releases a compound that weakens bones.
The same pattern was not seen in men who took part in the study, with those who were underweight had a two-fold higher risk of breaking their arms – the highest of any group.
The scientists did not say why this was the case, although it may have to do with the design of the study. Previous research has suggested that obese men are also more likely to break their bones than those of a healthy weight.
About 40 percent of women who are morbidly obese will fracture their leg bones than women of a healthy weight, scientists in Quebec say. (stock image)
It was long thought that obesity helps protect bones from damage from trips and falls.
But a growing body of research is changing the roles of this theory, suggesting that being overweight or obese could increase a person’s risk of injury.
About two in five Americans — or 138 million people — are obese, estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest.
HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR BODY MASS INDEX – AND WHAT IT MEANS?
Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on your weight in relation to your height.
- BMI = (weight in pounds / (height in inches x height in inches)) x 703
- BMI = (weight in kilograms / (height in meters x height in meters))
- Under 18.5: underweight
- 18.5 – 24.9: Healthy
- 25 – 29.9: overweight
- 30 – 39.9: obese
- 40+: Morbid obesity
Researchers collected data from more than 20,000 men and women, ages 40 to 70, over about six years.
All participants lived in Quebec, Canada, and were followed between 2009 and 2016.
Each had their Body Mass Index (BMI) calculated to determine whether they were morbidly obese, obese, overweight, a healthy weight, or underweight.
A total of 820 injuries were recorded during the study period, of which 497 were in women and 323 in men.
For women, the most common were major osteoporotic fractures — damage to the hip, spine, wrist or leg — with 260 injuries recorded.
Leg fractures came in second place (219), followed by arm fractures (141).
It was the same in men with osteoporotic factors that were the most common, with 155 cases, followed by leg fractures with 134 cases and arm fractures with 62 cases.
The paper was presented last week at the European Congress on Obesity in Maastricht, the Netherlands.
It didn’t break down the numbers to show how many study participants were obese, or the proportion who suffered fractures or injuries.
But the results suggested that the women who weighed the most were most at risk for a leg injury.
In comparison, those who were overweight were five percent more likely to injure their bone, while those who were underweight had a five percent lower risk than someone of average weight.
The scientists also found that for each With a two-inch increase in waist circumference, the risk of a leg fracture increased by seven percent in both age groups, while the risk of a fracture increased by three percent.
Turcotte said: ‘Waist circumference was more strongly associated with fractures in women than BMI.
‘This may be due to visceral fat — fat that is highly metabolically active and stored deep in the abdomen, wrapped around the organs — secreting compounds that adversely affect bone strength.
‘We also know that obese people take longer to stabilize their bodies, for example if they stumble.
“This is especially pronounced when weight is concentrated in the front of the body, suggesting that individuals with a distribution of body fat in the abdominal area are at higher risk of falling.”
This study did not show that the fattest men were at the same risk as the tallest women, which the scientists did not explain.
But previous research concluded that men with a higher percentage of body facts are at a similar risk of fracture, or may even be at higher risk.
A paper published in February in the journal endocrinology found that fatter men have lower bone density, making them more likely to break a bone.