Current Evidence on the Association of Dietary Patterns and Bone Health: A Scoping Review

Adv Nutr. 2017 Jan 17;8(1):1-16. doi: 10.3945/an.116.013326. Print 2017 Jan.


Nutrition is an important modifiable factor that affects bone health. Diet is a complex mixture of nutrients and foods that correlate or interact with each other. Dietary pattern approaches take into account contributions from various aspects of diet. Findings from dietary pattern studies could complement those from single-nutrient and food studies on bone health. In this study we aimed to conduct a scoping review of the literature that assessed the impact of dietary patterns (derived with the use of both a priori and data-driven approaches) on bone outcomes, including bone mineral status, bone biomarkers, osteoporosis, and fracture risk. We retrieved 49 human studies up to June 2016 from the PubMed, Embase, and CINAHL databases. Most of these studies used a data-driven method, especially factor analysis, to derive dietary patterns. Several studies examined adherence to a variety of the a priori dietary indexes, including the Mediterranean diet score, the Healthy Eating Index (HEI), and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI). The bone mineral density (BMD) diet score was developed to measure adherence to a dietary pattern beneficial to bone mineral density. Findings revealed a beneficial impact of higher adherence to a "healthy" dietary pattern derived using a data-driven method, the Mediterranean diet, HEI, AHEI, Dietary Diversity Score, Diet Quality Index-International, BMD Diet Score, Healthy Diet Indicator, and Korean Diet Score, on bone. In contrast, the "Western" dietary pattern and those featuring some aspects of an unhealthy diet were associated inversely with bone health. In both a priori and data-driven dietary pattern studies, a dietary pattern that emphasized the intake of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, and low-fat dairy products and de-emphasized the intake of soft drinks, fried foods, meat and processed products, sweets and desserts, and refined grains showed a beneficial impact on bone health. Overall, adherence to a healthy dietary pattern consisting of the above-mentioned food groups can improve bone mineral status and decrease osteoporosis and fracture risk.

Keywords: a priori dietary pattern; bone; data-driven dietary pattern; dietary index; dietary score; fracture; osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Density
  • Bone and Bones / physiology*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Diet, Mediterranean
  • Diet, Western
  • Humans
  • Models, Animal
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Osteoporosis / diet therapy
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control