The Recorder - UMass researcher gets $ 788,000 to study bone strength and age-related loss

Published: 03/15/2019 6:15:37 PM

AMHERST – A UMass researcher was recently awarded a three-year grant from the National Science Federation, $ 788,810 to see if higher levels of physical activity lead to greater bone strength and protect against age-related bone loss . Brigittem. Holt, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, will serve as co-principal investigator of the study.

The research, to be conducted on the Tsimane indigenous people of the Bolivia plain, is the first to study the association between activity profiles and bone structure in a living pre-industrial population. Holt will also examine the extent to which osteogenic responses to habitual and physically intense subsistence tasks are mediated by advanced age, gender differences, energy limitation and high pathogenic load.

"We hope our findings will have implications for understanding the causes of osteoporosis, a global challenge to public health, identifying risk factors for lower bone mass beyond the sedentary lifestyle," said Holt in a UMass press release. "By providing knowledge of direct epidemiological relevance for Tsimane and other rural subsistence populations in the early stages of modernization, this project will provide a basic data set that can be used by Bolivian officials and other governments for future health service planning."

"Given the scope of the project … it is highly unlikely that a similar bone data set will always be assembled in a preindustrial population," says Holt. "At the end of the project, we will make available to the public all the data rendered anonymous to qualified researchers, who will serve as an archive for future scientists who are no longer able to study the impacts of modernization on the activity profiles and bone structure in the subject populations to socio-economic changes ".

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