Osteopenia is common in early middle-age adults, suggesting a need for increased osteoporosis screening and prevention programs in this age group, according to study results published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. Researchers suggest that primary care clinicians integrate early detection of osteoporosis precursors into routine annual physicals for adults aged 35 and older.

The study included early middle-age participants age 35 to 50 years (n = 173). Participants completed a questionnaire that assessed calcium intake, hours per week of exercise, and other related risk factors associated with osteoporosis and osteopenia. The researchers used dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scans from the femoral neck, trochanter, intertrochanteric crest, total femur, and lumbar spine to attain bone mineral density (BMD).

Of 173 participants, 47% were men and 94% (n = 92) were white. Of the male participants, 28% (n = 23) had osteopenia of the femoral neck and 6% (n = 5) had osteoporosis of the lumbar spine. Of the female participants, 26% (n = 24) had osteopenia of the femoral neck and 2% (n = 2) had osteoporosis of the lumbar spine.

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In male participants, the researchers found a significant negative correlation between exercise and femoral neck BMD (r = -0.296; P =.01).

In female participants, the researchers found significant positive correlation between exercise and BMD of the trochanter (r = 0.329; P =.003), intertrochanteric crest (r = 0.285; P =.01), total femur (r = 0.30; P =.01), and lumbar spine (r = 0.29; P =.01).

“Primary care physicians should begin educating patients as early as adolescence or young adulthood so the consequences of osteoporosis can be prevented,” the researchers wrote.


Bass MA, Sharma A, Nahar VK, et al. Bone mineral density among men and women aged 35 to 50 years. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2019;119(6):357-363.

This article originally appeared on Endocrinology Advisor