Osteoporosis International

, Volume 4, Issue 6, pp 362–367 | Cite as

Volumetric bone density of the lumbar spine is related to fat mass but not lean mass in normal postmenopausal women

  • I. R. Reid
  • M. C. Evans
  • R. W. Ames
Original Article


We have previously found that fat mass but not lean body mass is related to bone mineral density (BMD) in women. In these and most other studies of the dependence of BMD on body composition, areal rather than volumetric bone density was measured. It is possible that the dependence of this variable on body size introduced a scale artifact that contributed to the previous findings. The present study addresses this issue by measuring thevolumetric density of the third lumbar vertebra from simultaneous anteroposterior (AP) and lateral scans using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry in 119 normal postmenopausal women. Whole body fat and lean body mass were also measured using this technique. In the AP projection, BMD was similarly related to body weight and to fat mass (r=0.44,p<0.0001 for both) but not to lean body mass (r=0.17, NS). BMD in the lateral projection was less closely related to body composition than was AP BMD, but the greater impact of fat (r=0.25,p<0.01) than lean body mass (r=0.09, NS) was still evident. When AP or lateral BMDs were divided by height, arm span or the square root of the scan area to produce an index with the dimensions of volumetric density, the dependence of BMD on body weight and fat mass were not affected but the relationship to lean body mass was eliminated (−0.02<r<0.09). Similarly, the volumetric density of the third lumbar vertebra was related to fat mass (r=0.21,p=0.02) but not to lean body mass (r=0.01). It is concluded that BMD is related to fat mass and that previously reported associations between lean body mass and BMD are probably contributed to by a scaling factor arising from failure to measure volumetric bone density.


Body composition Densitometry Obesity Osteoporosis X-ray 


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Copyright information

© European Foundation for Osteoporosis 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. R. Reid
    • 1
  • M. C. Evans
    • 1
  • R. W. Ames
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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