• Question: What is the easiest bone to break when you are obesity?

    Asked by 18mackenzieakred to Aina, AlexAgrotis, Alex, Ambre, Anabel, Deepak, Emmanuelle, Ettie, James, Kaitlin, Kate, Lorena, Marianne, Matthew, MattyB, Nina, Patrick, Rachel, Rebecca, Ross, Ryan, Shobhana, Shonna, Thiloka, David on 20 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Rebecca Moon

      Rebecca Moon answered on 20 Jun 2019: last edited 21 Jun 2019 9:51 am


      This is an interesting question and one of my specialist subjects! We know that obese children and young people are at higher risk of breaking a bone than those of normal weight, probably quite simply because there is more weight on the bone during a fall.

      I have done a study involving 400 children with fractures in the upper limb. We measured the height and weight of all of them to calculate their BMI, and we measured the amount of fat in their body. We found that a higher proportion of children who had fractures in the forearm (radius and/or ulna) were obese compared to those fractures in the upper arm (humerus) or hand. What we dont know from this study is whether being obese alters the type of activity the children participate in and therefore they tend to participate in activities that lead to forearm fractures and not upper arm or hand fractures, or whether the same event leads to a forearm fracture in an obese child but no fracture or a hand fracture in a normal weight child. Its interesting and we still need to unpick it a bit. You can read the study here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26027507 we also didnt look at the lower limb in this study.

    • Photo: Matthew Bareford

      Matthew Bareford answered on 20 Jun 2019:


      I would refer you to Rebecca’s answer here, as I wasn’t sure until I looked at hers! 😊

    • Photo: Kate Timms

      Kate Timms answered on 20 Jun 2019:


      Seeing as Rebecca has actually studied this, she definitely has this answer covered!

    • Photo: David Wilson

      David Wilson answered on 20 Jun 2019:


      Hopefully, since this is Rebecca’s speciality she can correct me if i’m mistaken.
      .
      There is a link between obesity and Osteoperosis. Osteperosis occurs when your bones become brittle are weaker and are more likely to break. Overweight people are more likely to develop Osteoperosis.
      .
      As has been said “there is more weight on the bone during a fall.” So there is more chance of it being damage.
      .
      Trips, slips and falls become more likely as we get old in part because we become less agile, less co-ordinated and our balance isn’t as good. This is why elderly people are particularly at risk. This is also the case when overweight as it can be hard to “catch” yourself if you trip.
      .
      The most common broken bone when tripping is the forearm or collarbone. This is simply because your natural reaction to falling is to reach out with your hand to break your landing. In fact this can lead to a fracture in your arm.

    • Photo: Kaitlin Wade

      Kaitlin Wade answered on 20 Jun 2019:


      Rebecca is the master here!

    • Photo: Nina Rzechorzek

      Nina Rzechorzek answered on 20 Jun 2019:


      Yep – this is definitely one for Rebecca! Also found some interesting research going on at Durham into the links between vertebral fractures and obesity:
      https://www.dur.ac.uk/research/news/item/?itemno=37097
      Sadly obesity is also an issue in veterinary patients but anecdotally, I haven’t seen lots of them with fractures. Certainly obesity increases the risk and impact of degenerative joint disease (arthritis) in our patients which can be a major welfare issue because of the pain it causes.

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