Musculoskeletal effects of obesity and bariatric surgery – a narrative review

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Obesity affects several areas of the human body, leading to increased morbidity and mortality and the likelihood of other diseases, such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases and musculoskeletal disorders. These conditions predispose to bone fractures and sarcopenic obesity, defined by the presence of an obesity-associated decrease in muscle mass and strength. Both bone fragility and sarcopenic obesity disease are consequences of several factors, such as a low degree of chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies, ectopic fat deposits and sedentary lifestyle. The diagnosis of obesity-related musculoskeletal disorders is limited by the lack of sarcopenia criteria and lower accuracy of bone mineral density measurement by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry in overweight people. Reducing body weight provides undeniable benefits to this population, however treating cases of severe obesity with bariatric surgery can cause even greater damage to bone and muscle health, especially in the long term. The mechanisms involved in this process are not yet fully understood, but factors related to nutrient malabsorption and mechanical discharge as well as changes in gut hormones, adipokines and bone marrow adiposity should be taken into account. Depending on the surgical technique performed, greater musculoskeletal damage may occur, especially in cases of malabsorptive surgeries such as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, when compared to restrictive techniques such as sleeve gastrectomy. This difference is probably due to greater weight loss, nutrient malabsorption and important hormonal changes that occur as a consequence of the diversion of intestinal transit and loss of greater absorptive surface. Thus, people undergoing bariatric procedures, especially malabsorptive ones, should have their musculoskeletal health supervised to allow early diagnosis and appropriate therapeutic interventions to prevent osteoporotic fractures and preserve the functionality of the skeletal muscles. Arch Endocrinol Metab. 2022;66(5):621-32.




Holanda, N., Crispim, N., Carlos, I., Moura, T., Nóbrega, E., & Bandeira, F. (2022). Musculoskeletal effects of obesity and bariatric surgery – a narrative review. Archives of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Sociedade Brasileira de Endocrinologia e Metabologia.

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