Background: Several variables have been established as risk factors for osteoporosis: it is more common among women and the gender difference increases with age and with years since menopause. Estrogens, androgens, physical activity, and body mass index have been previously shown to be positively associated with bone mineral density and inversely with risk for fractures.
Methods: To assess the effect on bone mineral content of energy-generating nutrients, healthy men (n = 36) and women (n = 118) ages 25-69 years were interviewed among visitors and staff of the University of Athens Department of Medical Physics. Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured by single photon absorptiometry.
Results: Demographic and lifestyle variables were not significantly related to BMD in this study, although the patterns were consistent with those previously reported by other investigators. Total energy intake, which also reflects energy expenditure through physical activity, was positively associated with BMD among both men (P = 0.003) and women (P = 0.04). After adjustment for nonnutritional variables and energy intake, monounsaturated fat, which in the Greek population is mostly derived from olive oil, was associated with BMD. The association was positive among both men (P = 0.01) and women (P = 0.03). There was evidence for an inverse association between carbohydrate intake and BMD, but the association was significant only with respect to mono- and disaccharides.
Conclusions: In this population, consumption of monounsaturated fat and physical activity were predictive of bone mineral density, but larger studies are needed.