Strong Muscles Make for Strong Bones
There’s good and bad news for parents trying to raise healthy children. If your kid is overweight, you needn’t worry that he or she will also suffer from weak bones. Excess body fat is not linked to poor bone health. But there’s a catch: strong muscles ARE linked to better bone health. Basically, if a child’s muscles are strong, her bones will be too.
These days, the obesity epidemic is claiming ever-younger victims. Once rare, childhood overweight and obesity are increasingly common. That’s troubling for any number of reasons. Overweight children—like adults—are at increased risk for various serious diseases and conditions, including diabetes and early atherosclerosis—which could lead to heart disease. But bone health, as measured by bone mineralization, does not correlate with body fat. It does, however, correlate with muscle strength.
"Bone strength and size is important because they are significant factors in long term osteoporosis and fracture risk," says Dr Rebecca Moon, lead investigator of the study, conducted in England. "A ten per cent increase in peak bone mass will delay the onset of osteoporosis by 13 years. These findings point to the importance of early childhood physical activity to optimize muscle and bone growth."
In other words, it’s important for kids to be kids—with plenty of opportunities to be active and engage in the types of play activities that help keep muscles strong and build dense, resilient bones that will last a lifetime. Incidentally, the link between muscle mass and bone mineralization was strongest among little girls. So building muscle may be even more important for girls, as they tend to be more prone to osteoporosis than men, later in life.
Professor Cyrus Cooper, Director of the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, said: "This is a wonderful example of a biomedical discovery made by combining state of the art imaging methodologies with the world leading population science, for which Southampton has an established international reputation."
Rebecca J. Moon, Zoe A. Cole, Sarah R. Crozier, Elizabeth M. Curtis, Justin H. Davies, Celia L. Gregson, Sian M. Robinson, Elaine M. Dennison, Keith M. Godfrey, Hazel M. Inskip, Cyrus Cooper, Nicholas C. Harvey. Longitudinal changes in lean mass predict pQCT measures of tibial geometry and mineralisation at 6–7years. Bone, 2015; 75: 105 DOI: 10.1016/j.bone.2015.02.015