• bone mineral density;
  • calcium intake;
  • epidemiology;
  • lifestyle factors;
  • osteoporosis;
  • prevention

ABSTRACT Objective: To examine associations between calcium intake in the diet, lifestyle factors, and forearm bone mineral density (BMD) in order to identify population subgroups for targeting by screening programs.

Methods: A questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 15% of the inhabitants aged 20–79 years from 2 Swedish municipalities, and the subsample from one of the municipalities was invited to measurement of BMD. The survey response rate was 74% (n=1,112/1,510) and participation in BMD measurements was 68% (n=448/659).

Results: Only a tendency ( p=.085) toward direct association between calcium intake and forearm BMD was found, and the best multiple regression model was retained to explain BMD excluded calcium intake. Low calcium intake was, instead, in complementary analyses, found to be correlated with the factors old age, female sex, and urban residence in the best multiple regression model.

Conclusions: Population subgroups whose calcium intake is in a range that justifies preventive action could be identified. Screening programs staffed by public health nurses can thereby be informed regarding the subgroups of the population that are at the highest risk of insufficient calcium intake.