Original Article

Osteoporosis International

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 139-150

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Dairy foods and osteoporosis: an example of assessing the health-economic impact of food products

  • F. J. B. LöttersAffiliated withInstitute of Health Policy and Management (iBMG), Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • , I. Lenoir-WijnkoopAffiliated withDepartement of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of UtrechtDanone Research Email author 
  • , P. FardelloneAffiliated withService de Rhumatologie, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Amiens
  • , R. RizzoliAffiliated withUniversity Hospital Geneva, Bone Diseases
  • , E. RocherAffiliated withDanone Research
  • , M. J. PoleyAffiliated withInstitute for Medical Technology Assessment (iMTA), Erasmus University Rotterdam



Osteoporosis has become a major health concern, carrying a substantial burden in terms of health outcomes and costs. We constructed a model to quantify the potential effect of an additional intake of calcium from dairy foods on the risk of osteoporotic fracture, taking a health economics perspective.


This study seeks, first, to estimate the impact of an increased dairy consumption on reducing the burden of osteoporosis in terms of health outcomes and costs, and, second, to contribute to a generic methodology for assessing the health-economic outcomes of food products.


We constructed a model that generated the number of hip fractures that potentially can be prevented with dairy foods intakes, and then calculated costs avoided, considering the healthcare costs of hip fractures and the costs of additional dairy foods, as well as the number of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost due to hip fractures associated with low nutritional calcium intake. Separate analyses were done for The Netherlands, France, and Sweden, three countries with different levels of dairy products consumption.


The number of hip fractures that may potentially be prevented each year with additional dairy products was highest in France (2,023), followed by Sweden (455) and The Netherlands (132). The yearly number of DALYs lost was 6,263 for France, 1,246 for Sweden, and 374 for The Netherlands. The corresponding total costs that might potentially be avoided are about 129 million, 34 million, and 6 million Euros, in these countries, respectively.


This study quantified the potential nutrition economic impact of increased dairy consumption on osteoporotic fractures, building connections between the fields of nutrition and health economics. Future research should further collect longitudinal population data for documenting the net benefits of increasing dairy consumption on bone health and on the related utilization of healthcare resources.


Calcium Dairy products Hip fractures Nutrition economics Osteoporosis