Obese children tend to have more muscles but with excessive body fat, it may compromise other functions in the body such as bone growth, a new study says. Children with excessive body fat may have weaker bones and these bones carry most of the body's weight.

Researchers from the University of Georgia wanted to summarize latest clinical findings about muscle-bone relationship in children. To do this, they considered certain factors like muscle adiposity, endocrine factors and lifestyle practices.

They wanted to show how muscle can influence various characteristics of bone geometry and strength in children.

Published in the journal Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity, the study showed that children who are obese may have weaker bones even though they have more muscles than normal kids. The excessive fats may compromise important body process specifically bone growth.

"It's a common understanding that, in children, muscle is a very strong determinant of how bone is going to grow," Joseph Kindler, a doctoral student at University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences, Department of foods and nutrition said.

"Obese children will tend to have more muscle, so we would suspect that they would also have larger, stronger bones," he said.

Role Of Fats In Geometry Of Bones

The researchers gathered studies governing muscle strength as a contributor to bone growth throughout childhood and adolescence. They found that this function may be different in children with more body fat. Additionally, they also considered and looked at geometry of bones among children and adolescents.

Based on their investigation, excess fats in children when they are obese can be deposited within the muscle. In fact, the fats found inside the muscle may affect bone growth. They found that muscle fat is linked to impaired glucose sensitivity and muscular functionality.

This may lead to impaired bone growth during adolescence, which is an important body process to form strong and sturdy bones.

Gaps In The Research Still Remain

The researchers hope to use the review to determine gaps in this research especially in terms of understanding problems in children.

"This paper summarizes the literature that's been published. We know that muscle is such an important contributor to bone development. But it also shows that our understanding of how fat influences these relationships is still unclear," Kindler said.

He added that one of their goals is to further understand how conditions related to obesity specifically the progression of type 2 diabetes can affect muscle and bone growth.

What Should Be Done?

The researchers recommend that a healthy lifestyle change is important to address this predicament. Obese children should eat a healthy diet and practice physical activity in order to lose excessive fats.

"Following age-specific diet and physical activity recommendations should be a major focus in obtaining optimal muscle and bone development throughout maturation," the researchers wrote in the study.

A family doctor at Northwest Medical Center confirms the study. She explained how the muscle replaces the fat layer beneath the skin when someone starts to exercise or work out. In children, however, there is more fat content and when there is lack of physical activity, this will lead to deposition of fats within muscles.

"The shift in lifestyle from traditional living to a more convenient one is the biggest culprit and our biggest challenge," Dr. Anju Sood added.

She recommends a three-step solution to the problem. First, she recommends that parents should encourage their children to eat a balanced diet. Part of this is to avoid processed, convenient or fast food. Second, the government should implement stricter regulations in institutions to include compulsory hours for exercise and physical activity. Lastly, she urges lifestyle modifications.

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