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Want to keep your bones healthy? Don’t get too skinny

January 5, 2010 |  4:08 pm

Anorexia Girls suffering through the insecurities of puberty are often likely to yearn for the rail-thin bodies of supermodels plastered across the typical supermarket glossy.

But, as new research shows, puberty is a crucial time for a woman to love those curves. In a study to be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, scientists found that fat mass helps build bone mass, particularly in girls.

Add brittle bones to the long list of physical and psychological damage caused by an eating disorder — the research could have implications for "whether development of the female skeleton is preferentially affected by conditions such as anorexia nervosa associated with reduced fat mass," the study said.

Scientists aren't quite clear on why exactly a woman's fat content makes a difference. Some of that bone accrual is likely a response to the stress caused by the weight her skeleton is carrying; the study's authors also suggest a possible relationship with estrogen levels.

Whatever the underlying causes are, given the post-menopausal specter of osteoporosis, it's important to encourage a healthy body image. Not only is skin-and-bones an unflattering look, it's bad for your bones in the long run.

— Amina Khan

Photo credit: Edward Ruiz / For The Times

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