Relative contributions of lean and fat mass to bone strength in young Hispanic and non-Hispanic girls

Megan Hetherington-Rauth, Jennifer W. Bea, Robert M. Blew, Janet L. Funk, Melanie D. Hingle, Vinson R. Lee, Denise J. Roe, Mark D. Wheeler, Timothy G. Lohman, Scott B. Going

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: With the high prevalence of childhood obesity, especially among Hispanic children, understanding how body weight and its components of lean and fat mass affect bone development is important, given that the amount of bone mineral accrued during childhood can determine osteoporosis risk later in life. The aim of this study was to assess the independent contributions of lean and fat mass on volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD), geometry, and strength in both weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing bones of Hispanic and non-Hispanic girls. Methods: Bone vBMD, geometry, and strength were assessed at the 20% distal femur, the 4% and 66% distal tibia, and the 66% distal radius of the non-dominant limb of 326, 9- to 12-year-old girls using peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT). Total body lean and fat mass were measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Multiple linear regression was used to assess the independent relationships of fat and lean mass with pQCT bone measures while adjusting for relevant confounders. Potential interactions between ethnicity and both fat and lean mass were also tested. Results: Lean mass was a significant positive contributor to all bone outcomes (p < 0.05) with the exception of vBMD at diaphyseal sites. Fat mass was a significant contributor to bone strength at weight bearing sites, but did not significantly contribute to bone strength at the non-weight bearing radius and was negatively associated with radius cortical content and thickness. Bone measures did not significantly differ between Hispanic and non-Hispanic girls, although there was a significant interaction between ethnicity and fat mass with total bone area at the femur (p = 0.02) and 66% tibia (p = 0.005) as well as bone strength at the femur (p = 0.03). Conclusion: Lean mass is the main determinant of bone strength for appendicular skeletal sites. Fat mass contributes to bone strength in the weight-bearing skeleton but does not add to bone strength in non-weight-bearing locations and may potentially be detrimental. Bone vBMD, geometry, and strength did not differ between Hispanic and non-Hispanic girls; fat mass may be a stronger contributor to bone strength in weight-bearing bones of Hispanic girls compared to non-Hispanic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-150
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Bone strength
  • Fat mass
  • Girls
  • Hispanic
  • Lean mass
  • Peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology


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