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Weight-bearing bones are more sensitive to physical exercise in boys than in girls during pre- and early puberty: a cross-sectional study.
We carried out a cross-section study of the sex-specific relationship between bone mineral content and physical activity at sites with different loading in pre- and early pubertal girls and boys. There was significant sensitivity of bone mineral content of the hip to physical exercise in boys, but not in girls. BACKGROUND: Since little is known whether there are sex differences in sensitivity of bone to loading, we investigated sex differences in the cross-sectional association between measures of physical activity (PA) and bone mass and size in pre- and early pubertal children of both sexes. METHODS: We measured bone mineral content/density (BMC/BMD) and fat-free mass (FFM) in 269 6- to 13-year-old children from randomly selected schools by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Physical activity (PA) was measured by accelerometers and lower extremity strength by a jump-and-reach test. RESULTS: Boys (n = 128) had higher hip and total body BMC and BMD, higher FFM, higher muscle strength and were more physically active than girls (n = 141). Total hip BMC was positively associated with time spent in total and vigorous PA in boys (r = 0.20-0.33, p < 0.01), but not in girls (r = 0.02-0.04, p = ns), even after adjusting for FFM and strength. While boys and girls in the lowest tertile of vigorous PA (22 min/day) did not differ in hip BMC (15.62 vs 15.52 g), boys in the highest tertile (72 min/day) had significantly higher values than the corresponding girls (16.84 vs 15.71 g, p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Sex differences in BMC during pre- and early puberty may be related to a different sensitivity of bone to physical loading, irrespective of muscle mass.
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