Obese children tend to have more muscle but excess body fat may compromise other functions in their bodies, such as bone growth, new research has found.
Joseph Kindler from the University of Georgia in US studied how muscle can influence different characteristics of bone geometry and strength in children.
Researchers were interested in looking at the geometry of bones – the measures of size and strength of the bone – particularly for children and adolescents.
Kindler pulled together previously published findings to give an up-to-date look at how muscle influences bone geometry and bone strength during youth. The role of fat in these relationships was also investigated.
Based on the research they gathered, muscle was a strong contributor to bone growth throughout childhood and adolescence. However, this relationship may differ in children with greater body fat.
“It’s a common understanding that, in children, muscle is a very strong determinant of how bone is going to grow,” said Kindler, a doctoral candidate at UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences’ department of foods and nutrition.
“Obese children will tend to have more muscle, so we would suspect that they would also have larger, stronger bones,” said Kindler.
The excess fat that accompanies obesity can be deposited within the muscle. There is emerging evidence that suggests this fat within the muscle may have an effect on how the bone grows, according to researchers.
Understanding how excess fat, specifically that within the muscle, can influence the muscle and bone relationship in children is still under investigation, but there is clearly a connection, Kindler said.
The findings were published in the journal Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity.