The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Going Out on a Limb: Does Obesity have a Systemic Effect on Limb Bone Morphology?


Anthropology, University of Tennessee

Saturday All day, Clinch Concourse Add to calendar

In studies of the effects of body mass on the human skeleton, an emphasis is often placed on the principle of bone functional adaptation, associating changes with local mechanical effects. However, it is known that systemic metabolic shifts occurring with obesity also influence bone turnover and cell signaling. Therefore, it is possible that obesity has systemic effects on bone throughout the skeleton, both due to increased loads and physiological effects, such as hormonal levels.

This study considers the interaction of these mechanical and metabolic effects. Previous anthropological studies have correlated severe obesity with changes in some cross-sectional properties of lower limb bones. This study adds further analyses by examining effects on the upper limb, which is subject to a different mechanical loading pattern than weight bearing bones. All data were collected from high-resolution tomographic scans of modern individuals’ skeletons (Bass Donated Collection, University of Tennessee). Cross-sectional properties were taken from multiple diaphyseal locations on the humerus, radius, femur, and tibia on human remains from people known to be within normal clinical weight ranges and people documented as overweight. Differences in cortical bone strength properties in the upper limb bones would be indicative of systemic effects of obesity on the skeleton. Preliminary results comparing the cross-sectional geometry of the midshaft femora of obese and non-obese individuals showed significant differences, while no differences were noted for the midshaft humeri. Further analyses will test for differences at different locations along the humeral and femoral diaphyses, as well as the radius and tibia.

comments powered by Disqus