People categorised as 'obese' may run the risk of deterioration of bone density and muscle mass, which further underscores the need for private health insurance for those with pre-existing health conditions.
Researchers from the Florida State University have named the link between obesity and muscle mass and bone density "osteosarcopenic obesity" in the May 2014 issue of Ageing Research Reviews.
Hazel Stiebeling Professor of Nutrition at Florida State University, Jasminka Ilich-Ernst, began looking at the links between bone, muscle and fat mass a few years ago.
According to Ms Ilich-Ernst, the general outlook was that the more weight bones carried, the stronger they would be.
"It used to be the thinking that the heavier you were the better your bones would be because the bones were supporting more weight," Ms Ilich-Ernst stated in an April 16 press release. "But, that's only true to a certain extent."
The research, which was undertaken by fellow faculty members and researchers from Ohio based Abbott Nutrition as well as Gustavo Duque, a professor from the University of Sydney, focused on 200 women who had previously participated in studies in which their bone density, muscle mass and fat tissue were all measured.
Around one third of these women had declining bone density (osteopenia) as well as muscle mass (sarcopenia), and over 30 per cent fat tissue, suggesting the three factors are interlinked.
Ms Ilich-Ernst acknowledged that gaining weight, as well as losing bone density and muscle mass, could potentially occur as a result of ageing. However, substantial body fat may worsen conditions of muscle mass and bone density.
In Australia, obesity rates are rapidly increasing. In 2011-12, 28 per cent of the Australian population were obese, compared to 11 per cent in 1989, according to the National Health Performance Authority.
In addition, almost half of the estimated population of 23 million Australians were either overweight or obese in 2011-12.
The implications of declining bone density and muscle mass as a result of obesity include greater risk of falls, as well as breaking bones. Ms Ilich-Ernst stated this problem is most prevalent in older females, but has no limitations when it comes to age and gender.
"They [obese people] have a higher risk of falling and breaking a bone or encountering other disabilities," Ms Ilich-Ernst explained.
Although existing health conditions should not be the sole reason for gaining private health insurance, those with conditions such as obesity may want to consider extra cover, such as emergency hospital cover. This is due to the increased likelihood of broken bones as a result of lesser bone density and higher risk of falls.
Aside from gaining health insurance in case of any complications to do with your health, Australians should take action to boost fitness levels and maintain a healthy weight through a balanced and active lifestyle.
The best way to get on track to a body at optimum health is to remember to combine exercise with a varied diet – and balance is key when it comes to good health.
Low-impact exercises such as swimming and walking are great options for Australians to kick start their exercise regime, and will be easier on potentially fragile bones and muscles than tough exercises such as running.
The Australian Government Department of Health recommends adults aged 18 to 64 years of age participate in exercise most, and preferably all, days of the week, and gradually build up the amount they do.
In general, the Department of Health recommends two and a half to five hours of moderate physical activity spread out over the course of a week should suffice, which can then be built up to include some vigorous activity. In addition, muscle strengthening exercises should be completed twice per week.
If you're not sure where you stand when it comes to your options, it's best to talk with a professional. The experts at HICA are happy to help!