Osteoporosis International

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 307–313

Impact of increased overweight on the projected prevalence of osteoporosis in older women

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00198-006-0241-8

Cite this article as:
Looker, A.C., Flegal, K.M. & Melton, L.J. Osteoporos Int (2007) 18: 307. doi:10.1007/s00198-006-0241-8



Overweight is increasing worldwide, but particularly in the United States of America. Higher body weight is associated with higher bone density, so our goal was to estimate whether the higher prevalence of overweight is likely to reduce osteoporosis among older women.


We calculated the prevalence of osteoporosis by weight status in older women using data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III, 1988–94). We defined overweight as a body mass index (BMI) ≥25 and osteoporosis as a femur neck bone mineral density (BMD) value 2.5 standard deviations or more below the mean of that of young women. To estimate the expected prevalence of osteoporosis, we applied the prevalence of osteoporosis by weight status from NHANES III to the corresponding weight status prevalence from NHANES 1999–2002.


Of older women in NHANES 1999–2002, 68% were overweight compared to 62% in NHANES III. Overweight status was significantly related to osteoporosis prevalence (P < 0.001). However, the expected prevalence of osteoporosis in NHANES 1999–2002 was only slightly lower than that seen in NHANES III (16.8% vs 18.1%, respectively).


The increasing prevalence of overweight among older US women appears unlikely to be accompanied by a significant reduction in osteoporosis.


Impact of overweightOsteoporosis

Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. C. Looker
    • 1
  • K. M. Flegal
    • 1
  • L. J. MeltonIII
    • 2
  1. 1.National Center for Health StatisticsCenters for Disease Control and PreventionHyattsvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Sciences ResearchMayo Clinic College of MedicineRochesterUSA