Historically it was thought that obesity led to a higher bone density due to the increased stress the bones endured with normal activity. However, recent studies have suggested that this relationship is an over simplification and that bone density may be negatively affected by obesity. Four areas of active research have been identified that link bone density and fat stores:
- Both osteoblasts (bone forming cells) and adipocytes (fat cells) are derived from a common stem cell and agents inhibiting one line of differentiation promoted the other, and vice versa. This suggests they play opposing roles.
- Decreased bone formation in the bone marrow with aging is usually accompanied with increased bone marrow fat development.
- Chronic use of steroid hormones result in both obesity and rapid bone loss.
- Both obesity and osteoporosis are associated with elevated inflammatory markers.