Body fat mass is a predictor of risk of osteoporotic fractures in women but not in men: a prospective population study

Journal of Internal Medicine, 04/27/2012

Moayyeri A et al. – The %BF appears to predict hip fracture risk in women with an effect size comparable to that of bone density as measured by heel ultrasound. This effect was not observed in men. Understanding the differences in relationships between different indices of obesity as well as sex differences may help to elucidate the metabolic and other underlying mechanisms involved in bone health and fracture risk.


  • The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) in Norfolk was a population–based prospective study.
  • A total of 14789 participants (6470 men, aged 42–82 years at baseline) were included.
  • The main outcome measures were quantitative ultrasound of the heel and incident hip and any osteoporotic fractures.


  • A total of 556 participants suffered a fracture (184 hip fractures) during 8.7 ± 0.8 years of follow–up.
  • Risk of hip fracture decreased linearly with increasing %BF amongst women but not men.
  • After adjustment for age, history of fracture, height, smoking, alcohol intake and heel broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA), the hazard ratio (95% CI) for a 10% higher %BF on risk of hip fracture was 0.56 (0.39–0.79) in women and 0.92 (0.39–2.21) in men.
  • The effect size in women was approximately equivalent to a difference of 5 years in age or 1 standard deviation (17 dB MHz–1) increased BUA.
  • A nonlinear negative association was also observed between %BF and risk of `any type of fracture' amongst women but not men.

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