Greater yogurt consumption is associated with increased bone mineral density and physical function in older adults



In this cohort of community dwelling older adults (>60 years), we observed significant positive associations between the frequencies of yogurt intake with measures of bone density, bone biomarkers, and indicators of physical function. Improving yogurt intakes could be a valuable health strategy for maintaining bone health in older adults.


The associations of yogurt intakes with bone health and frailty in older adults are not well documented. The aim was to investigate the association of yogurt intakes with bone mineral density (BMD), bone biomarkers, and physical function in 4310 Irish adults from the Trinity, Ulster, Department of Agriculture aging cohort study (TUDA).


Bone measures included total hip, femoral neck, and vertebral BMD with bone biochemical markers. Physical function measures included Timed Up and Go (TUG), Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Scale, and Physical Self-Maintenance Scale.


Total hip and femoral neck BMD in females were 3.1–3.9% higher among those with the highest yogurt intakes (n = 970) compared to the lowest (n = 1109; P < 0.05) as were the TUG scores (−6.7%; P = 0.013). In males, tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP 5b) concentrations were significantly lower in those with the highest yogurt intakes (−9.5%; P < 0.0001). In females, yogurt intake was a significant positive predictor of BMD at all regions. Each unit increase in yogurt intake in females was associated with a 31% lower risk of osteopenia (OR 0.69; 95% CI 0.49–0.96; P = 0.032) and a 39% lower risk of osteoporosis (OR 0.61; 95% CI 0.42–0.89; P = 0.012) and in males, a 52% lower risk of osteoporosis (OR 0.48; 95% CI 0.24–0.96; P = 0.038).


In this cohort, higher yogurt intake was associated with increased BMD and physical function scores. These results suggest that improving yogurt intakes could be a valuable public health strategy for maintaining bone health in older adults.

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The TUDA study was funded by the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine through the grants 07FHRIUCD1 (“JINGO” 2007–2013) and 13F407 (“JINGO–JPI”/“ENPADASI” 2014–2016) and from the Northern Ireland Department for Employment and Learning under its “Strengthening the all-Ireland Research Base” initiative. Funding for this study was also provided from The National Dairy Council Ireland. The funding organizations had no role in the design and conduct, collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data or in the preparation, review, or approval of this manuscript. The authors also acknowledge Drs Martin Healy, Adrian McCann, and Liadhan McAnena for bone biochemical analysis.

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Correspondence to E. Laird.

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Ethical approval was granted by the relevant authorities in each jurisdiction: the Research Ethics Committee of St. James’s Hospital and The Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Dublin, and the Office for Research Ethics Committees Northern Ireland (ORECNI; reference 08/NI/RO3113) with corresponding approvals from the Northern and Western Health and Social Care Trusts, Northern Ireland.

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Laird, E., Molloy, A.M., McNulty, H. et al. Greater yogurt consumption is associated with increased bone mineral density and physical function in older adults. Osteoporos Int 28, 2409–2419 (2017).

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  • Aging
  • BMD
  • Frailty
  • Physical function
  • Yogurt