I have always worked hard to stay thin. Now that I have osteoporosis, I’m wondering if that was such a good idea. What’s the connection between body weight and bones?
It really depends on how thin you are. The explains how to calculate your BMI. If your BMI is less than 22, then your weight is a risk factor for osteoporosis. You say that you have worked hard to stay thin.Did you have to work hard in the sense that you were on a stringent diet and may not have had adequate intake of calcium, vitamin D, and protein? Or did you exercise excessively to stay thin? Both lifestyles could interfere with the normal process of bone breakdown and bone formation.
If you had very low body weight as a child or adolescent, it’s possible that you never reached peak bone mass. Obesity (BMI > 30) can also contribute to the development of osteoporosis, usually because people who are obese tend to be less active and, most importantly, they tend to exercise less. Lack of exercise is correlated directly with bone loss . But being overweight or obese is not all bad when it comes to bone health. The mere act of carrying around extra weight can increase the stress on bones, which contributes to the making of new bone. More muscle mass and higher bone turnover are also generally present in individuals who are overweight or obese.
Both men and women who are overweight or obese have more circulating sex hormones, which assist in maintaining normal bone mass. Still, it’s not clear if being overweight actually lowers the risk of fracture. Some older studies indicate that the risk of fracture is reduced in overweight women. But in later studies this risk is the same as those for normal-weight women. Unfortunately, being obese carries with it enormous health problems, so it’s still considered advisable for overweight individuals to lose weight.
The bad news for you, as a very thin person, is that lower body weight (< 127 pounds or BMI < 22) is definitely linked to a higher risk of fracture. So, if you are thin and older, you are more likely to fracture your hip if you fall than your overweight counterparts, who may have denser bones and more fat to pad their falls.
And if you lose weight, intending to or not, your risk of hip fracture still goes up. So, for you, being very thin, gaining enough weight to reach a BMI between 22 and 25 would be advisable after a discussion with your clinician. Reducing the potential for fracture should be your goal .