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Full body DEXA and your bone health

Updated: Nov 8, 2018

We cover bone health in our consultations even though we know most of our clients want to skip over it to look at their body fat losses and lean muscle gains.

But when we tell people that we ALL reach our peak bone density by the time we are 30 years old, they tend to pay a bit more attention.

Monitoring your bone health is a big deal (especially for women). Osteoporosis is a significant problem but everyone agrees that prevention is much better than the cure.

BMD for bone health – territory for GPs and radiology practices

DEXA scanners were originally designed to measure just bone health.

We perform a full body DEXA scan which we are the first to acknowledge gives you an indicative (rather than diagnostic) bone health reading. But when we go through your report, if we think this result should be looked at in more detail, we will suggest you visit your GP to be referred for a diagnostic BMD.

Medicare does fund diagnostic BMD scans, DEXA scans which look at just the bones in your hip and spine and are reported by a radiologist, if you:

o have a medical reason for being at higher risk of osteoporosis or

o are already suffering from fractures with minimal trauma or

o are over the age of 70 years.

You can get a diagnostic BMD any time and at any age and pay a private fee. But if we reach our peak bone mass at 30 and you wait until you can get a free scan when you’re 70… that’s 40 years since you were at your peak. And all a bit too little too late.

Osteoporosis Australia recommends GPs should consider osteoporosis and ordering a diagnostic BMD if a patient is over 50. While we are not suggesting you get a diagnostic BMD scan any earlier, we do think there is a pretty compelling case for you to pay more attention to the bone health summary you get with your full body composition scan.

Bone health discussion with your full body DEXA

Your bone health is actually the first thing we cover in our consultations.

We look at your T-Score (we explain what this means below) and if we see something we think should be looked at more closely, we’ll recommend you see your GP and discuss a diagnostic BMD.

We’ll give you a case study to show our point. Have a look at the DEXA bone health results for this client…

T-score changes over time with resistance exercise

This was a 43-year old female who started a compound weight training program (squats and deadlifts) aged 40. While her weight, fat and lean muscle masses didn’t change much, her T-score went up the dropped a little (at the same she started marathon training and dropped her resistance training.

It is well established that resistance training (link to Osteoporosis Australia Fact Sheet) is good for your bone strength and is recommended to improve bone health. So if you are undertaking a weights program to build your muscular strength (just like this client) chances are you are building up your bones at the same time.

This is something we’ll look at during your consultation with us when we talk about your T-Score.

So what does T-score mean?

Your T-score compares your bone density result to a population of young, healthy adults (of the same gender) who are around the peak bone density we talked about earlier.

*Geek alert… we’re going to get a bit technical and might bring back some nightmares from your high school maths class*

Your T-score represents the number of standard deviations (SDs) your BMD measurement is above or below the mean result for young healthy adults of the same gender.

Gender is important as bone health is a bigger issue for women because our oestrogen levels decline rapidly during menopause. When our oestrogen levels drop, our bones lose calcium and other minerals at a faster rate causing a bone loss of approximately 2% per year for several years after menopause.

Back to our client example, she is now almost 2 SD above the average for a young healthy population… a really good score and sets her up well for a healthy future.

So our point is full body composition DEXA assessment is:

o NOT just about body fat and getting shredded for summer and looking good

o NOT just another way for body builders to watch their muscles grow

We advocate that monitoring your body composition and re-assessing your physical activity and diet are even more important as you age.

We refer to this study a lot because it sums up the importance of monitoring and managing your body composition as you age.. and the potential consequences if you don’t.

Your lean muscle mass, body fat levels, and your bone health are all linked and there are real, long-term health opportunities in monitoring your lean muscle mass, fat levels and your bone health together.

And a full body DEXA scan is the ONLY way to measure and monitor them all at once.

Still got questions? Drop us an email at

But most importantly… book your scan NOW and find out your DEXA health.

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