Fat mass contributes to the development of bone mass in teenage girls, and losing too much fat mass can increase the risk of osteoporosis in later years, according to a new study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, HealthDay News reports.  

After measuring the hard outer layer of bone in 4,005 girls and boys whose average age was 15.5 years, researchers found fat mass had a positive influence on bone mass, especially in girls. (Girls were 70 percent more likely than boys to have their bone mass positively affected by fat quantity.)

“Girls clearly have more fat mass than boys, and our findings show that whereas the greater lean mass in boys contributes to their greater cortical bone mass, this effect is partly counteracted by the greater fat mass in girls,” said Jonathan Tobias, the study’s lead author and a professor of rheumatology at the University of Bristol in England. “Excessive reduction in fat mass could have adverse effects on the developing skeleton particularly in girls, leading to an increased risk of osteoporosis later in life.”

Read all about osteoporosis here.