Body weight versus body fat distribution, adiposity, and frame size as predictors of bone density

Harry S. Glauber, William M. Vollmer, Michael C. Nevitt, Kristine E. Ensrud, Eric S. Orwoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations


Weight is strongly associated with bone mineral density (BMD), but the mechanism of this effect is not well understood. Weight, height, hip-waist ratio, elbow breadth, adiposity, and BMD were measured in 6705 older women participating in the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures. Adiposity was measured by bioelectric impedance and BMD by single-photon (proximal and distal radius and calcaneus) and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (lumbar spine and proximal femur). Age-adjusted associations between weight and BMD were robust at all sites (R2 = 5.9-20.4%), but the addition of other anthropometric variables to the model only marginally improved the association. Adiposity explained a substantial fraction of the effect of weight on BMD, particularly at weight-bearing sites (36-62%). On the other hand, weight explained virtually all the variability of adiposity on BMD at weight-bearing sites (81-100%). At the radial measurement sites, adiposity had more substantial independent contributions. Weight did not seem to influence the relationship between BMD and age. In sum, at weight bearing-sites, the preponderance of the effect of weight on BMD is a direct result of mass effects rather than adiposity, whereas at non-weight-bearing sites, adiposity exerts more important effects, potentially mediated by metabolic factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1118-1123
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1995


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