London: A new study by US researchers has found that overweight, apple-shaped women are more at risk of developing osteoporosis than those who are pear-shaped.
The common perception has been that having a higher percentage of body fat protects against the bone-wasting disease.
But the new study found that overweight women with lots of fat around their abdomens, as opposed to pear-shaped women with more fat on their hips and legs, were at greater risk of osteoporosis.
In their study 50 overweight, pre-menopausal women with an average body mass index (BMI) of 30 were scanned for their distribution of fat and their bone mineral density.
Those with more visceral fat - which is located deep under the muscle tissue in the abdominal cavity - had lower bone mineral density, one of the tell-tale indications of osteoporosis.
There was no strong link between either total fat or subcutaneous fat - which tends to be stored on the hips and thighs - and bone mineral density.
"We know that obesity is a major public health problem. Now we know that abdominal obesity needs to be included as a risk factor for osteoporosis and bone loss," the Telegraph quoted Dr Miriam Bredella, a radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School, as saying.
"Our results showed that having a lot of belly fat is more detrimental to bone health than having more superficial fat or fat around the hips.
"It is important for the public to be aware that excess belly fat is a risk factor for bone loss, as well as heart disease and diabetes," she added.
The study was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago on Monday.