About one in five American women 50 and older have osteoporosis, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data showed.
In cross-sectional survey data from 2017-2018, 19.6% of this demographic had osteoporosis at the femoral neck, lumbar spine, or both, reported Neda Sarafrazi, PhD, of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) in Hyattsville, Maryland, and colleagues in an NCHS Data Brief.
The age-adjusted prevalence of osteoporosis in men was far lower, afflicting only about 4.4% of men 50 and older.
All in all, osteoporosis was present in 12.6% of all American adults 50 and older, which was defined as a bone mineral density (BMD) value at least 2.5 standard deviations below young-adult average at the femoral neck or lumbar spine.
In NHANES, lumbar spine and femoral neck BMD were measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry on Hologic Discovery Model A Densitometers.
Not surprisingly, osteoporosis was far more common among older adults, affecting 17.7% of all men and women 65 and older, versus 8.4% of those ages 50-64.
Rates stood at 27% for women ages 65 and older and 13.1% of women at ages 50-64.
In men, prevalence values were 5.7% in those 65 and older and 3.3% in the 50-64 group.
Osteoporosis became slightly more common over the years, Sarafrazi’s group found. In 2007-2008, osteoporosis was seen in 9.4% of Americans 50 and older. The biggest uptick occurred in women, increasing nearly 5 percentage points from the earlier period. Rates remained steady throughout the years for men.
“Monitoring the prevalence of osteoporosis and low bone mass may inform public health programs that focus on reducing or preventing osteoporosis and its consequences,” Sarafrazi’s group noted. “Healthy People 2020 has a goal of 5.3% or less for the prevalence of osteoporosis at the femur neck for adults aged 50 and over.”
“In the United States, the prevalence of osteoporosis among adults aged 50 and over at the femur neck only was 6.3% and has not met the 2020 goal,” they underscored.
The data also showed an epidemic of low bone mass — a precursor of osteoporosis, defined as BMD of 1 to 2.5 standard deviations below the young-adult average.
Among all adults ages 50 and older, 43.1% had low bone mass at the femoral neck, lumbar spine, or both. Prevalence was 51.5% among women and 33.5% among men.
The overall rate hit 47.5% in those 65 and older. But older age was less of a factor for women, with almost no difference between the 50-64 and 65-plus age groups.
For both sexes, prevalence rates of low bone mass held steady during the decade between 2007-2008 and 2017-2018.
Kristen Monaco is a staff writer, focusing on endocrinology, psychiatry, and dermatology news. Based out of the New York City office, she’s worked at the company for nearly five years.