Contrary to the fact that weight loss leads to decreased bone mineral density, researchers have found that bone mineral content in obese adolescents keeps on increasing despite weight loss.
The study conducted at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia examined 62 adolescents between 9 and 17 years of age.
The participants went through a trial looking at the effectiveness of a comprehensive, family-based, behavioural weight control program combined with a weight loss drug, sibutramine.
The researchers used dual energy X-ray absorptiometry scanner (DXA), and looked at the specific body areas including legs, arms and lumbar spine as well as the bone mineral content of the whole body. The data was then compared with a reference group of 66 adolescent
The findings revealed that bone mineral content continues to increase in this adolescent population despite weight loss.
"The growing pediatric obesity epidemic raises important clinical and public health questions about the effects on lifelong bone health of early onset obesity and its treatment," said Dr. Nicolas Stettler, M.S.C.E., pediatric nutrition specialist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and lead author of this study.
"Although fractures due to low bone mineral content are mainly a problem for the elderly, the amount of bone mass acquired during puberty is the key determinant of lifetime fracture risk.
"As obesity treatment during adolescence becomes more frequent, it is important to understand the role of weight loss on bone health during this critical period," Dr. Stettler added.
The study is in the current issue of the journal Obesity.