Original Article

Osteoporosis International

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 811-820

First online:

The potential impact of the National Osteoporosis Foundation guidance on treatment eligibility in the USA: an update in NHANES 2005–2008

  • B. Dawson-HughesAffiliated withJean Mayer United States Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University Email author 
  • , A. C. LookerAffiliated withNational Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • , A. N. A. TostesonAffiliated withMultidisciplinary Clinical Research Center in Musculoskeletal Diseases, Dartmouth Medical SchoolThe Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Dartmouth Medical School
  • , H. JohanssonAffiliated withWHO Collaborating Centre for Metabolic Bone Diseases, University of Sheffield Medical School
  • , J. A. KanisAffiliated withWHO Collaborating Centre for Metabolic Bone Diseases, University of Sheffield Medical School
  • , L. J. MeltonIIIAffiliated withDivision of Epidemiology, College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic

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This analysis of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005–2008 data describes the prevalence of risk factors for osteoporosis and the proportions of men and postmenopausal women age 50 years and older who are candidates for treatment to lower fracture risk, according to the new Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX)-based National Osteoporosis Foundation Clinician’s Guide.


It is important to update estimates of the proportions of the older US population considered eligible for pharmacologic treatment for osteoporosis for purposes of understanding the health care burden of this disease.


This is a cross-sectional study of the NHANES 2005–2008 data in 3,608 men and women aged 50 years and older. Variables in the analysis included race/ethnicity, age, lumbar spine and femoral neck bone mineral density, risk factor profiles, and FRAX 10-year fracture probabilities.


The prevalence of osteoporosis of the femoral neck ranged from 6.0% in non-Hispanic black to 12.6% in Mexican American women. Spinal osteoporosis was more prevalent among Mexican American women (24.4%) than among either non-Hispanic blacks (5.3%) or non-Hispanic whites (10.9%). Treatment eligibility was similar in Mexican American and non-Hispanic white women (32.0% and 32.8%) and higher than it was in non-Hispanic black women (11.0%). Treatment eligibility among men was 21.1% in non-Hispanic whites, 12.6% in Mexican Americans, and 3.0% in non-Hispanic blacks.


Nineteen percent of older men and 30% of older women in the USA are at sufficient risk for fracture to warrant consideration for pharmacotherapy.


Bone mineral density Dawson-Hughes, B. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey National Osteoporosis Foundation Clinician’s Guide Osteoporosis