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Fat Mass May Have Greater Effect on Bone Mass in Girls

But lean mass is the major determinant of bone mass for both genders

FRIDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- While lean body mass is the main determinant of bone mass in both boys and girls, fat mass has a greater influence on bone mass in girls, according to a study published online Dec. 11 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Adrian Sayers and Jonathan H. Tobias from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom examined the association between total body fat mass, lean mass, and measures of cortical bone mass and geometry at the mid-tibia in 4,005 boys and girls (mean age, 15.5 years).

The researchers found that, while lean mass was the major determinant of cortical bone mineral content in both boys and girls, lean mass was influenced more by periosteal circumference in girls and by cortical bone mineral density in boys. Fat mass also influenced bone mineral content, with an approximately 70 percent greater effect in girls than in boys due to a stronger tendency in girls to stimulate periosteal expansion and reduce endosteal expansion.

"Whereas lean mass stimulates the accrual of cortical bone mass to a similar extent in boys and girls, fat mass is a stronger stimulus for accrual of cortical bone mass in girls, reflecting a greater tendency in females for fat mass to stimulate periosteal growth and suppress endosteal expansion," Sayers and Tobias conclude.

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