The prevalence of osteoporosis is expected to increase with the ageing of the world's population. This article reviews the epidemiology, risk factors and health burden of osteoporosis. In the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study 2005, osteoporosis is studied as a risk factor for fracture by considering the bone-mineral-density (BMD) measurement as the continuous exposure variable. We have performed a systematic review seeking population-based studies with BMD data measured by dual-X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). The femoral neck was selected as the unique location and all values were converted into Hologic(®) to enable inclusion of worldwide data for analysis. Provisional results on mean BMD values for different world regions are shown in age breakdowns for males and females 50 years or over, as well as mean T-scores using the young, white, female reference of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III. Results show remarkable geographical differences and a time trend towards improvement of the BMD values in Asian and European populations.
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