Osteoporosis International

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 349–360 | Cite as

Risk assessment and screening for low bone mineral density in a multi-ethnic population of women and men: does one approach fit all?

Original Article


Screening for osteoporosis is currently recommended for all women aged 65 years and older in the USA. How to address screening of non-white women and all men is unclear. Osteoporosis risk assessment questionnaires have been designed and tested mostly among postmenopausal white women, and there is a lack of consensus on appropriate bone mineral density (BMD) cut-off values for defining osteoporosis in non-white persons. The objectives of the present study were to identify a set of risk factors from published population-based studies in white women and men and determine the ability of these risk factors to predict osteoporosis and low BMD in African–American (AA), Mexican–American (MA), and white women and men, and to assess the diagnostic accuracy of this set of risk factors for identifying osteoporosis separately in AA, MA, and white women and men by the use of data for 2,590 women and 2,391 men 50–79 years of age from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). We employed the World Health Organisation (WHO) definition of osteoporosis, using race/ethnic and gender-specific young adult mean values when calculating the T scores. Low body-mass index, low calcium intake, current cigarette smoking, and physical inactivity were independent risk factors identified from population-based studies. The presence of one or more risk factors was associated with having osteoporosis and low BMD in all groups. The strength of these associations was greater when two or more risk factors were present but varied with race/ethnicity, gender, and age. We conclude that this set of osteoporosis risk factors predicts osteoporosis in non-white women and men. Furthermore, as a risk assessment tool, this set of risk factors might be useful for reducing the number of unnecessary BMD tests performed in older women as well as identifying non-white men who do not require BMD testing.


Bone mineral density Gender Osteoporosis Race/ethnicity Risk assessment Risk factors 


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Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical MedicineNew OrleansUSA

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