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03-09-2017 | Osteoporosis | Review | Article

Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and Bone in Adults

Calcified Tissue International

Authors: Jennifer S. Walsh, Tatiane Vilaca

Publisher: Springer US


In an increasingly obese and ageing population, type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and osteoporotic fracture are major public health concerns. Understanding how obesity and type 2 diabetes modulate fracture risk is important to identify and treat people at risk of fracture. Additionally, the study of the mechanisms of action of obesity and T2DM on bone has already offered insights that may be applicable to osteoporosis in the general population. Most available evidence indicates lower risk of proximal femur and vertebral fracture in obese adults. However the risk of some fractures (proximal humerus, femur and ankle) is higher, and a significant number fractures occur in obese people. BMI is positively associated with BMD and the mechanisms of this association in vivo may include increased loading, adipokines such as leptin, and higher aromatase activity. However, some fat depots could have negative effects on bone; cytokines from visceral fat are pro-resorptive and high intramuscular fat content is associated with poorer muscle function, attenuating loading effects and increasing falls risk. T2DM is also associated with higher bone mineral density (BMD), but increased overall and hip fracture risk. There are some similarities between bone in obesity and T2DM, but T2DM seems to have additional harmful effects and emerging evidence suggests that glycation of collagen may be an important factor. Higher BMD but higher fracture risk presents challenges in fracture prediction in obesity and T2DM. Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry underestimates risk, standard clinical risk factors may not capture all relevant information, and risk is under-recognised by clinicians. However, the limited available evidence suggests that osteoporosis treatment does reduce fracture risk in obesity and T2DM with generally similar efficacy to other patients.

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