In a study from Boston University, scientists found that age-related accumulation of abdominal fat is associated with lower muscle density.
Low muscle density means the muscle has more fat in it, which can lead to less effective muscle function that in turn may lead to more falls.
Most obesity research has focused on metabolic and cardiovascular outcomes such as diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, coronary heart disease, and osteoarthritis.
But there is considerably less consensus on the role of obesity on the risk for low muscle mass or muscle density.
In the study, the researchers found people with the greatest 6-year accumulation of visceral adipose tissue (VAT), found in the abdomen, had significantly lower muscle density.
Since VAT accumulation is a risk factor for poor musculoskeletal outcomes linked to aging, these findings add to the growing dangers of accumulating fat in the body.
The study is the first large, longitudinal study of the association between changes in VAT and muscle density.
The study found that VAT may represent a modifiable risk factor for poor musculoskeletal outcomes with aging.
The team says the study adds important new information to public health efforts to reverse the trend of the growing obesity problem in the United States and worldwide.
Fat that accumulates in the abdomen sometimes referred to as the ‘male pattern,’ was shown to produce less dense muscle surrounding the spine, resulting in less-effective muscle function.
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The study was conducted by Ching-Ti Liu et al and published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
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