, Volume 18, Issue 9, pp 1261-1269
Date: 27 Mar 2007

Height loss, forearm bone density and bone loss in menopausal women: a 15-year prospective study. The Nord-Trøndelag Health Study, Norway

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In a population-based cohort of 1,421 women 45–60 years old followed for 15.5 years, 71% of the women had lost height. Height loss was associated with low forearm bone density and increased bone loss, but high body weight and oestrogen therapy were protective factors. Increased height loss indicates a generalized state of bone loss.


The degree of height loss and its association to forearm bone mineral density (BMD) and bone loss was investigated in a population-based cohort of middle-aged women followed for more than 15 years.


Among 8,856 women aged 45–60 years attending the first HUNT Study, Norway (1984–86), a 35% random sample was invited to forearm densitometry 11.3 years later (HUNT 2, 1995–97), and 2,188 attended (78.3%). In 2001, 15.5 years since baseline, all were invited to follow-up densitometry and height measurement.


A total of 71.2% and 17.4% of the 1,421 women attending had lost >1 cm and >3 cm of height since baseline, respectively. Women aged ≥ 64 years at HUNT 2 had a relative risk (RR) for height loss >3 cm of 3.1 (95% CI 2.2, 4.3) compared to women <64 years. A strong and negative association was found between height loss and forearm BMD, adjusted for time since menopause. A high rate of height loss was associated to increased forearm bone loss. High body weight, oestrogen treatment and good self-rated health were protective against height loss.


Height loss is frequent in middle-aged women, and increased height loss indicates a generalized state of bone loss.