Osteoporosis is a major health problem, especially in elderly populations, and is associated with fragility fractures at the hip, spine, and wrist. Hip fracture contributes to both morbidity and mortality in the elderly. The demographics of world populations are set to change, with more elderly living in developing countries, and it has been estimated that by 2050 half of hip fractures will occur in Asia. This review conducted using the PubMed database describes the incidence of hip fracture in different regions of the world and discusses the possible causes of this wide geographic variation. The analysis of data from different studies show a wide geographic variation across the world, with higher hip fracture incidence reported from industrialized countries as compared to developing countries. The highest hip fracture rates are seen in North Europe and the US and lowest in Latin America and Africa. Asian countries such as Kuwait, Iran, China, and Hong Kong show intermediate hip fracture rates. There is also a north-south gradient seen in European studies, and more fractures are seen in the north of the US than in the south. The factors responsible of this variation are population demographics (with more elderly living in countries with higher incidence rates) and the influence of ethnicity, latitude, and environmental factors. The understanding of this changing geographic variation will help policy makers to develop strategies to reduce the burden of hip fractures in developing countries such as India, which will face the brunt of this problem over the coming decades.
Keywords: Epidemiology; geographic variation; hip fracture; incidence rate; osteoporosis.