Lifestyle Influences on 9-Year Changes in BMD in Young Women


  • The authors have no conflict of interest


The effects of dietary calcium intake and physical activity on longitudinal changes in BMD over a mean of 9.4 years were examined in 62 healthy young women. Proximal femur BMD declined, lumbar spine BMD increased, and physical activity was associated with BMD change at intertrochanter and total hip sites.

Introduction: Maximizing premenopausal BMD is an important strategy for the prevention of osteoporosis and resultant fractures later in life.

Materials and Methods: Young women who previously participated in a placebo-controlled 2-year calcium intervention study at a mean age of 18.5 ± 0.3 years were remeasured at 27.8 ± 1.0 years of age. DXA (Hologic QDR 1000W) was used to measure changes in BMD, and lifestyle factors were ascertained by questionnaire.

Results and Conclusions: Early decline in BMD at the neck of femur (−3.3%/decade) and the converse gain in BMD at the lumbar spine (+4.3%/decade) and intertrochanter (+1.9%/decade) suggest site-specific changes in BMD in young premenopausal women. No effect of previous calcium supplementation was seen on current BMD or changes in BMD (p > 0.10). Lifestyle predictors of change in BMD were determined using hierarchical regression analysis after forced correction for the covariates baseline BMD and previous calcium supplementation. Physical activity was positively associated with change in BMD at total hip and intertrochanter sites (β-coefficients, β = 0.26 and 0.26 respectively; p < 0.05). Calcium intake was negatively associated with change in BMD at the lumbar spine (β = −0.27, p < 0.05). Parity was negatively associated with change in BMD at all sites (β = −0.40 to −0.26, p < 0.05). These data show that BMD is already declining at the proximal femur in these healthy young women. Physical activity assists in maintenance of BMD at some sites and thus may contribute to lifelong fracture prevention. There was no positive association between calcium intake and change in BMD.