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Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans, or 55 percent of the people 50 years of age and older. In the U.S., 10 million individuals are estimated to already have the disease and almost 34 million are estimated to have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis. By the year 2010, it is estimated that over 52 million women and men in this same age category will be affected, and if current trends continue, the figure will climb up to over 61 million by 2020 according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Being Asian is a risk factor for osteoporosis. Having a thin, small boned frame (or low bone mass), low physical activity and low calcium intake also are risk factors. As much as 90% of Asian Americans may be lactose intolerant, therefore obtaining calcium from dairy products proves problematic. As a result of osteoporosis, vertebral or spinal fracture occurrence is high among Asian American women.

  1. Of the 10 million Americans estimated to have osteoporosis, eight million are women and two million are men.
  2. It is projected that more than about 50% of all osteoporotic hip fractures will occur in Asia by the year 2050.
  3. The estimated national direct care expenditures (including hospitals, nursing homes, and outpatient services) for osteoporotic fractures is $18 billion per year in 2002 dollars, and costs are rising.
  4. China: From 1988 to 1992, the incidence of hip fractures in Beijing increased by 34% in women and 33% in men.
  5. India: Expert groups peg the number of osteoporosis patients at approximately 26 million (2003 figures) with the numbers projected to increase to 36 million by 2013.
  6. Korea: The number of hip fractures after 75 years of age was 4.3 per 1000 in women and 2.97 per thousand in men.
  7. Singapore: Compared to the 1960's, hip fractures in women have gone up 5 times in women and 1.5 times in men.
  8. Japan: The prevalence of osteoporosis in the Japanese female population aged 50-79 years has been estimated to be about 35% at the spine and 9.5% at the hip.

Source: National Osteoporosis Foundation


The mission of the Osteoporosis Education and Screening Program is to increase osteoporosis awareness in the Asian American community, reduce the number of Asian Americans that develop osteoporosis and improve data collection on prevalence of osteoporosis.

The goals of osteoporosis awareness are:

  1. To increase awareness of osteoporosis in the Asian American community by providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services
  2. To increase the number of adult Asian Americans that take preventative measures to reduce osteoporosis
  3. To obtain data on the prevalence of pre-/osteoporosis in the Asian American community

What you should know:

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. If not prevented or if left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These broken bones, also known as fractures, occur typically in the hip, spine, and wrist.

Any bone can be affected, but of special concern are fractures of the hip and spine. A hip fracture almost always requires hospitalization and major surgery. It can impair a person's ability to walk unassisted and may cause prolonged or permanent disability or even death. Spinal or vertebral fractures also have serious consequences, including loss of height, severe back pain, and deformity.

What are the symptoms of having osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is often called a "silent disease" because bone loss occurs without symptoms.  People may not know that they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, bump or fall causes a fracture or a vertebra to collapse.  Collapsed vertebrae may initially be felt or seen in the form of severe back pain, loss of height, or spinal deformities such as kyphosis or stooped posture.

What are the risk factors of osteoporosis?

Controllable risk factors / risk factors that we can change Uncontrollable risk factors / risk factors that we cannot change
  • Current low bone mass
  • Low body weight
  • Decrease in estrogen level
  • Lack of calcium and vitamin D
  • Lack of exercise
  • Use of certain medications such as corticosteroids and anticonvulsants
  • Smoking
  • Consume excessive amount of alcohol
  • Being Asian American
  • Being female
  • Being age of 50 and older
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • History of anorexia nervosa

How can osteoporosis be prevented?

By about age 20, the average woman has acquired 98 percent of her skeletal mass.  Building strong bones during childhood and adolescence can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis later. There are five steps, which together can optimize bone health and help prevent osteoporosis.  They are:

  • A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
  • Weight-bearing and resistance-training exercises
  • A healthy lifestyle with no smoking or excessive alcohol intake
  • Talking to healthcare professional about bone health
  • Bone density testing and medication when appropriate
Sources: National Osteoporosis Foundation,
National Asian Womens Health Organization, and
National Institutes of Health

Outreach and Education

The Asian American Health Initiative has collaborated with different community partners to conduct outreach events along with osteoporosis screening and education to different Asian population in Montgomery County. At outreach events, bone density screening and various translated education materials have been provided to community members to help them understand why it is important and how to prevent osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis Prevention Postcards

Home Safe/Fall Prevention Posters
Developed by US Department of Health and Human Services,
Translated by Asian American Health Initiative

Also Available in:

Bone Density Screening

The Asian American Health Initiative uses a qualitative ultrasonic bone sonometer to test bone strength. This machine is safe and uses
ultrasound waves to test the heel of your foot. The results of the test
include a T-score, which is a comparison of your results with those
young, healthy people of your sex. T-score also can be used to determine your risk for osteoporosis.


Ultrasound Bone Measurement Report Interpretation
Normal T-score -1 to +1 SD
Osteopenia T-score - 1 to -2.5 SD
Osteoporosis T-score -2.5 or less
Severe Osteoporosis T-score -2.5 or less and fragility fracture
Source: WHO Diagnostic Categories 1994: BMD*-Based Definition of Osteoporosis/Osteopenia

If you want to received more information about osteoporosis, please contact us


For more information on osteoporosis, please contact the following organization

Asian American Senior Citizens Services Center – Santa Ana, CA
China Osteoporosis Foundation
Foundation for Osteoporosis Research and Education
International Bone and Mineral Society
International Osteoporosis Foundation
Japan Osteoporosis Foundation
National Osteoporosis Foundation
National Resource Center - The NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases.
Osteoporosis Society (Singapore)
Office of the U.S. Surgeon General, United States Department of Health and Human Services.  Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General