European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 321–328 | Cite as

Bone mineral density at the hip in Norwegian women and men—prevalence of osteoporosis depends on chosen references: the Tromsø Study

  • Nina EmausEmail author
  • Tone K. Omsland
  • Luai Awad Ahmed
  • Guri Grimnes
  • Monica Sneve
  • Gro K. Berntsen
Locomotor Diseases


This study describes bone mineral density (BMD) and the prevalence of osteoporosis in women and men between 30–89 years in an unselected population. BMD was measured in g/cm2 at total hip and femoral neck by dual-energy-X-ray absorptiometry in 3,094 women and 2,132 men in the 2001 Tromsø Study. BMD levels were significantly explained by age and declined progressively in both sexes from middle into old age, with highest decline in women. With osteoporosis defined as a T-score of two and a half standard deviation below the young adult mean BMD, the prevalence at the total hip in subjects above 70 years was 6.9% in men and 15.3% in women, respectively, using the Lunar reference material for T-score calculations. The prevalence increased significantly to 7.3% in men and 19.5% in women, when T-scores were calculated on basis of the young adult mean BMD (age group 30–39 years) in the study population. At the femoral neck, prevalence of osteoporosis increased from 13.5 to 18.5% in men, and from 20.4 to 35.2% in women above 70 years, respectively, depending on how T-scores were calculated. The study highlights the challenges with fixed diagnostic levels when measuring normally distributed physiologic parameters. Although BMD only partly explains fracture risk, future studies should evaluate which calculations give optimal fracture prediction.


Bone mineral density Osteoporosis Population based study Prevalence 



Bone mineral density


Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry


Canadian multicentre osteoporosis study


Confidence interval


Hormone treatment


Standard deviation



This work was supported by grants from the Regional Health Authorities (Health North) and the Norwegian Research Council. We are grateful to the Tromsø Study for providing access to the data material.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nina Emaus
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tone K. Omsland
    • 2
  • Luai Awad Ahmed
    • 1
  • Guri Grimnes
    • 3
  • Monica Sneve
    • 3
  • Gro K. Berntsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Community MedicineUniversity of TromsøTromsoNorway
  2. 2.Institute of General Practice and Community MedicineUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  3. 3.University Hospital of North NorwayTromsoNorway

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