Extreme obesity reduces bone mineral density: complementary evidence from mice and women

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Aug;15(8):1980-7. doi: 10.1038/oby.2007.236.


Objective: To evaluate the effects of body adiposity on bone mineral density in the presence and absence of ovarian hormones in female mice and postmenopausal women.

Research methods and procedures: We assessed percentage body fat, serum leptin levels, and bone mineral density in ovariectomized and non-ovariectomized C57BL/6 female mice that had been fed various calorically dense diets to induce body weight profiles ranging from lean to very obese. Additionally, we assessed percentage body fat and whole body bone mineral density in 37 overweight and extremely obese postmenopausal women from the Women's Contraceptive and Reproductive Experiences study.

Results: In mice, higher levels of body adiposity (>40% body fat) were associated with lower bone mineral density in ovariectomized C57BL/6 female mice. A similar trend was observed in a small sample of postmenopausal women.

Discussion: The complementary studies in mice and women suggest that extreme obesity in postmenopausal women may be associated with reduced bone mineral density. Thus, extreme obesity (BMI > 40 kg/m2) may increase the risk for osteopenia and osteoporosis. Given the obesity epidemic in the U.S. and in many other countries, and, in particular, the rising number of extremely obese adult women, increased attention should be drawn to the significant and interrelated public health issues of obesity and osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leptin / blood*
  • Linear Models
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Osteoporosis / blood
  • Osteoporosis / metabolism*
  • Ovariectomy
  • Random Allocation


  • Leptin