CHICAGO, Nov. 21, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Teenagers who are obese may be doing irreparable damage to their bones, according to a new study being presented next week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). Obesity in childhood and adolescence is associated with a number of health risks, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. For the new study, researchers are looking at how excess weight may affect bone structure. "While obesity was previously believed to be protective of bone health, recent studies have shown a higher incidence of forearm fractures in obese youths," said the study's lead author, Miriam A. Bredella, M.D., radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Dr. Bredella and colleagues set out to determine the relationship between adolescent obesity and bone structure. The researchers have recruited 23 obese adolescents with a mean age of 17 years and a mean body mass index (BMI) of 44 kg/m 2 for the ongoing study. "Adolescence is the time where we accrue our peak bone mass, so bone loss during this time is a serious problem," Dr. Bredella said. "We know from other chronic states that lead to bone loss in adolescence, such as anorexia nervosa, that increased fracture risk persists in adulthood, even after normalization of body weight. Therefore, it is important to address this problem early on." The researchers performed 3D HR-pQCT—a type of computed tomography exam designed specifically for measuring bone mineral density and bone microarchitecture in the arms and legs—to determine the bone structure of the distal radius, an area of the forearm near the wrist. They also performed dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) exams to determine body composition, including lean mass and visceral fat mass. Visceral fat is the deep fat in the abdomen that surrounds the internal organs.