Belly fat tied to musculoskeletal pain but not structural osteoporosis
Visceral fat is associated with a heightened risk of musculoskeletal and widespread pain, according to a study.
The study used data from the Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study cohort and included 2,961 participants (mean age, 62.5 years; 60.7 percent female) with or at high risk of knee osteoarthritis (OA). All of them had undergone whole body DEXA scans at baseline, and the data was used to measure total body fat and, in the torso, visceral and subcutaneous fat.
At baseline and months 30 and 60, researchers performed knee radiographs and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and asked the participants to score the severity of their knee pain and identify sites of joint pain using a body homunculus.
Mean body mass index at baseline was 30.5 kg/m2. In multivariable regression models, none of the fat measures showed an association with any structural outcomes (eg, incident radiographic OA, MRI cartilage loss and synovitis).
However, total and visceral but not subcutaneous fat had a positive association with greater knee pain and widespread pain, whereas the amount of visceral fat correlated with the number of painful joints.
Low-grade inflammation contributes to increased severity of both osteoarthritis and pain, the researchers said. The present data suggest that visceral fat, a major source of inflammatory cytokines and adipokines, bears an increased risk of only musculoskeletal pain.