A Losing Battle: Weight Regain Does Not Restore Weight Loss-Induced Bone Loss in Postmenopausal Women.
Previously, we reported significant bone mineral density (BMD) loss in postmenopausal women after modest weight loss. It remains unclear whether the magnitude of BMD change in response to weight loss is appropriate (i.e., proportional to weight loss) and whether BMD is recovered with weight regain. We now report changes in BMD after a 1-year follow-up. Subjects (n = 23) in this secondary analysis were postmenopausal women randomized to placebo as part of a larger trial. They completed a 6-month exercise-based weight loss program and returned for follow-up at 18 months. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) was performed at baseline, 6, and 18 months. At baseline, subjects were aged 56.8 ± 5.4 years (mean ± s.d.), 10.0 ± 9.2 years postmenopausal, and BMI was 29.6 ± 4.0 kg/m2. They lost 3.9 ± 3.5 kg during the weight loss intervention. During follow-up, they regained 2.9 ± 3.9 kg. Six months of weight loss resulted in a significant decrease in lumbar spine (LS) (−1.7 ± 3.5%; P = 0.002) and hip (−0.04 ± 3.5%; P = 0.03) BMD that was accompanied by an increase in a biomarker of bone resorption (serum C-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen, CTX: 34 ± 54%; P = 0.08). However, weight regain was not associated with LS (0.05 ± 3.8%; P = 0.15) or hip (−0.6 ± 3.0%; P = 0.81) bone regain or decreased bone resorption (CTX: −3 ± 37%; P = 0.73). The findings suggest that BMD lost during weight reduction may not be fully recovered with weight regain in hormone-deficient, postmenopausal women. Future studies are needed to identify effective strategies to prevent bone loss during periods of weight loss.