Osteoporosis & Obesity - The Dual Burden

Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become porous, thin and weak and bone density decreases making them unfit for weight bearing and posture functions, they were meant for. The bones become brittle and prone to fracture. As there are no warning signs, it frequently goes undiagnosed until the fracture occurs. The spine, wrist and hip are particularly vulnerable to fracture.

Many of us have a strong conviction that thin weak bones are an inevitable part of aging and frail elderly women develop it; however, in reality this is not the case. The damage from osteoporosis begins much earlier in life. 

How does it occur ?

Our skeleton provides structural support for our body. Bone is a living, growing tissue that is constantly being remodelled, broken down, and reformed again. During childhood and adolescence, the body produces bone faster than it is broken down - leading to growth and improving density. Peak bone density occurs during young adulthood (around mid 20s). As early as age 35, bone begins to break down faster than it is made. If the bones are not thick and dense at the peak, an individual may be at higher risk for developing the thin, weak, and fracture-prone bones that typify osteoporosis. 

Bones – Foundations of the Body

Building and maintaining strong healthy bones is a lifelong process as bones are living tissue in a constant state of renewal. Bones are made up of collagen, a protein that provides a soft framework and calcium phosphate, a mineral that adds strength and hard framework. This combination makes bone strong yet flexible to withstand stress.

99% of our body’s calcium is stored in our bones and teeth and this calcium makes up our bone bank. Based on our body’s need for calcium, it is deposited and withdrawn from our bone bank daily.  If our daily diet is low in calcium, calcium is withdrawn from our bone bank. Bone is broken down to keep our blood calcium levels normal. This happens because calcium plays a critical role in supporting our body’s vital functions; such as controlling our blood pressure and maintaining our heart beat as well.Therefore, it is crucial that young adults “bank” enough calcium in their bones to draw on later in life to prevent osteoporosis.

Body Fat and Osteoporosis

Ageing and high fat diet specifically promote expansion of adipogenic lineage. Adipogenic cells inhibit fracture repair. Body fat mass per say does not have protective effect on bone mass. Shared genetic and environmental factors may have beneficial effects on reducing both obesity ( by reducing fat mass) and osteoporosis. Positive correlation is there between lean mass regardless of adjustments of body weight. Large cohort of Chinese by Hsu etal. similar findings were revealed in the pilot study conducted on the Indian urban population by Dr. Veena Aggarwal, VLCC Healthcare Ltd. published in Omics International. This negated the myth that excess fat is protective for bones instead it substantiated the link of excess body fat creating unhealthy metabolic pathways, that disrupt bone matrix.

Diagnosis of osteoporosis

DEXA scan (Dual Energy X -ray Absorptiometry) - This test measures bone density – that is, how much bone mineral is packed into a given area of bone. This painless test involves a low dose of x-rays usually across spine and hip. With this test, doctors can compare someone’s bone density with that of a person of the same age and sex (Z score) and with an average young adult with peak bone density of the same sex (T score). 

Interpretation of Z score

Zero - Average Bone Density

Below zero – Bones are less dense than average

Greater than zero – Bones are denser than average

Interpretation of T score

+ 1.0 - Good Bone Density

Between + 1 and -1  - Normal Bone Density

Between -1 and -2.5 - Osteopenia

Less than – 2.5 - Osteoporosis

Blood calcium levels can identify the calcium levels in our body.

How VLCC Luxe can help ?

VLCC Luxe’s Wellness programme can help prevent weakening of bones by appropriate guidance on diet and a lifestyle. Our expert Dietitians help to identify the amendable diet and lifestyle factors that may put you at risk for osteoporosis. They plan an individually tailored dietary prescription ensuring that your diet is adequate in calcium and vitamin D. In case you need to lose weight, they guide you to do the same in an appropriate manner.

An exercise programme as per individuals’ health status is charted out by our specialized physiotherapists which include aerobic activity, weight-bearing exercises and resistance exercises to improve bone density and help prevent osteoporosis. Our Endeavor  - Knowledge empowerment  to have healthy bones with a  good posture and lifestyle

There is a lot which we can do to protect our bones from the occurrence of damages by ageing, gaining weight, medications and leading a sedentary lifestyle. The preventive steps need to be taken from early years of life by following a healthy lifestyle, being active throughout, and most important staying fit. We should not hold ourselves back, for the elderly years of life, as bone health is as important as any other health parameter.

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