A new study finds that obesity and type 2 diabetes can negatively affect bone health and increase the risk of bone fractures.
University of Missouri (MU) researchers investigated how the development of obesity – which is a key risk factor for type 2 diabetes – and insulin resistance contributed towards bone health. They also evaluated if exercise played a role not only in bone health, but in weight gain and diabetes.
In a rodent study, one group of rats was allowed to overeat and exercise voluntarily on running wheels. A second group was programmed to overeat and remained sedentary, while a control group consisted of rats that didn’t overeat, but remained sedentary.
The bones of all three rat groups were studied at different ages to assess how early they were affected during the development of obesity and diabetes.
The bone mass in all three groups increased as the rats continued to grow, but those that were obese and sedentary didn’t develop as much bone mass relative to their body weight.
Pam Hinto, MU Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, explained: “So, decreased bone formatio, loss of bone mass and decreased bone strength all were present in the obese, diabetic, sedentary rats. However, the rats that exercised did not lose bone strength. In fact, the rats that ran on the wheels had stronger bones than the normal-weight controls.”
Hinton added that this pattern of weight gain and insulin resistance parallels the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes in humans.
“What we have come to realise is that the bone of people with obesity and type 2 diabetes is not good quality bone. These individuals have an increased risk of fractures, so that extra body weight is not protective,” Hinton added.
The researchers noted, though, that the findings don’t explain how exercise improved bone health. One theory they suggested is that the healthier rats in the exercise group didn’t develop insulin resistance and diabetes.
“Once we can identify why bones in individuals with obesity and type 2 diabetes are weaker and how they become weaker, we can start developing more treatments through lifestyle and behavioural changes,” Hinton said.
The study was published in the journal Metabolism.

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