Body mass compartments may have different directions of influence on bone accrual. Studies of children are limited by relatively small sample sizes and typically make strong assumptions of linear regression.
To evaluate associations of overall body mass, components of overall body mass (fat-free and total fat), and components of total fat mass (truncal and non-truncal fat), measured via dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and anthropometry, with total body less head areal bone mineral density (aBMD) Z-score in mid-childhood.
We performed a cross-sectional study among 876 Boston-area children who had DXA measures. We evaluated linearity of associations using generalized additive models.
Children were median 7.7 (range 6-10) years of age, and 61% were white. After adjustment for sociodemographics and other compartments of body mass, overall body mass, particularly the fat-free mass component, appeared to have a positive relationship with aBMD Z-score [e.g., 0.25 (95% CI: 0.23, 0.28) per 1-kg fat-free mass]. The relationship between truncal fat and aBMD Z-score appeared non-linear, with a negative association only in children with levels of fat mass in the upper 15th percentile [e.g., -0.17 (95% CI: -0.26, -0.07) aBMD Z-score per 1-kg truncal fat mass], while non-truncal fat mass was not associated with aBMD Z-score.
Our analyses suggest that central adiposity is associated with lower aBMD Z-score only in children with the highest levels of abdominal fat. This finding raises the possibility of a threshold above which central adipose tissue becomes more metabolically active and thereby adversely impacts bone.