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Low bone mass in premenopausal chronic dieting obese women

A Corrigendum to this article was published on 26 August 2004


Background: Obese premenopausal women are thought to be at low risk for osteoporosis due to increased body weight and effects of estrogen on weight-bearing bone.

Objective: To examine the effect of restrained eating on obese women, we examined bone mineral density (BMD) and content (BMC) of the spine and femur in obese women who were restrained eaters, with emphasis on the relationship between BMC and determinants of bone mass, and current eating behaviors, dietary intake, physical activity, and indices of calcium regulation, bone metabolism, stress and inflammation.

Design: A total of 78 obese, Caucasian, female, restrained eaters, ages 30–45 y, were enrolled in a weight lose program. Height, weight, bone turnover markers, serum parathyroid hormone (PTH), cortisol, c-reactive protein (CRP), dietary intake, eating behaviors, physical activity, and BMD and BMC were measured.

Setting: This study was conducted at the University of California, in Davis, CA, USA.

Results: In all, 31% of women had osteopenia or osteoporosis (OSTEO). In the OSTEO group, 87.5% of women had osteoporosis or osteopenia of the lumbar spine and 12.5% of the women had osteoporosis or osteopenia in femur. A significant positive correlation between BMC and energy expenditure (r=0.256), and a significant negative correlation between BMC and number of times on a weight loss diet (r=−0.250) and cognitive restraint (r=−0.239) were observed. No significant differences were observed between OSTEO women and nonosteoporotic women for current eating behaviors, dietary intake, physical activity habits, bone turnover, calcium regulation, stress, or inflammation.

Conclusions: Obese restrained eaters are at risk for low bone mass. Prior dieting may be responsible. Chronic dieters should be encouraged to decrease their dietary restraint, develop healthy eating habits and increase physical activity.

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We thank the staff of the Physiology Support Laboratory and the Bioanalytical Support Laboratory of the USDA-ARS-Western Human Nutrition Research Center for their invaluable assistance. We also thank Alexandra Kazaks and Pauline Morel for their assistance during the conduct of the project. Finally, thanks to the women who participated in the project as research volunteers and made the project possible. This work was supported by Grant #1R03DK57738-01A1 from the National Institutes of Health and a cooperative agreement with the USDA-ARS-Western Human Nutrition Research Center.

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Correspondence to M D Van Loan.

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Bacon, L., Stern, J., Keim, N. et al. Low bone mass in premenopausal chronic dieting obese women. Eur J Clin Nutr 58, 966–971 (2004).

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  • bone mineral density
  • obesity
  • osteoporosis
  • restrained eating

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