Survey: Fewer older persons have osteoporosis

July 1, 2010

The number of older persons in the United States who have osteoporosis is declining, according to findings from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases–supported National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The number of older persons in the United States who have osteoporosis is declining, according to findings from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases–supported National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Femur bone mineral density (BMD) data from NHANES 2005-2006 were used to estimate the prevalence of osteoporosis/low BMD (osteopenia) in US adults 50 years and older. Osteoporosis was found in 10% of women and 2% of men; 49% of women and 30% of men had low BMD. The prevalence of osteoporosis in NHANES 2005-2006 was 7 points lower in women and 3 points lower in men than in NHANES III (1988-1994).

NHANES is a program of studies designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States; the survey is unique in that it combines interviews and physical examinations. The results are consistent with those of recent studies that reported a drop in the rate of hip fractures, but the reasons for reduction in the prevalence of osteoporosis are not clear. The apparent reduction achieves target goals for the US population, according to the researchers, but they caution that the prevalence remains high. The findings were published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

For more information about osteoporosis, visit http://www.bones.nih.gov. Or, call the NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center at (202) 223-0344 or (800) 624-2663 (toll-free). In addition, go to www.musculoskeletalnetwork.com to see “All about osteoporosis: Meeting the treatment challenge” [“Article Archive,” April 29, 2010], authored by physicians at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. For more information about NHANES, visit http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes.htm.