Abdominal obesity increases the risk of hip fracture. A population-based study of 43,000 women and men aged 60-79 years followed for 8 years. Cohort of Norway

J Intern Med. 2015 Mar;277(3):306-317. doi: 10.1111/joim.12230. Epub 2014 Mar 31.


Background: The question as to whether abdominal obesity has an adverse effect on hip fracture remains unanswered. The purpose of this study was to investigate the associations of waist circumference, hip circumference, waist-hip ratio, and body mass index with incident hip fracture.

Methods: The data in this prospective study is based on Cohort of Norway, a population-based cohort established during 1994-2003. Altogether 19,918 women and 23,061 men aged 60-79 years were followed for a median of 8.1 years. Height, weight, waist and hip circumference were measured at baseline using standard procedures. Information on covariates was collected by questionnaires. Hip fractures (n = 1,498 in women, n = 889 in men) were identified from electronic discharge registers from all general hospitals in Norway between 1994 and 2008.

Results: The risk of hip fracture decreased with increasing body mass index, plateauing in obese men. However, higher waist circumference and higher waist-hip ratio were associated with an increased risk of hip fracture after adjustment for body mass index and other potential confounders. Women in the highest tertile of waist circumference had an 86% (95% CI: 51-129%) higher risk of hip fracture compared to the lowest, with a corresponding increased risk in men of 100% (95% CI 53-161%). Lower body mass index combined with abdominal obesity increased the risk of hip fracture considerably, particularly in men.

Conclusion: Abdominal obesity was associated with an increased risk of hip fracture when body mass index was taken into account. In view of the increasing prevalence of obesity and the number of older people suffering osteoporotic fractures in Western societies, our findings have important clinical and public health implications.

Keywords: abdominal obesity; body mass index; hip fractures; waist circumference; waist/hip ratio.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Hip Fractures / epidemiology
  • Hip Fractures / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Obesity, Abdominal / complications*
  • Obesity, Abdominal / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Waist-Hip Ratio