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Osteoporosis is a major public health problem through its association with fracture. The problem may be alleviated substantially by appropriate early intervention before fracture occurs. This chapter discusses the epidemiology of osteoporosis and addresses the following questions: How should osteoporosis be defined? What is the incidence and prevalence of osteoporosis and fracture? Is there geographical variation in the occurrence of osteoporosis? What are the risk factors for osteoporosis and do they explain the occurrence of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fracture?

Original publication




Journal article


Best practice & research. Clinical rheumatology

Publication Date





795 - 806


MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit, Southampton General Hospital, Tremona Road, Southampton, SO16 6YD, UK.


Humans, Osteoporosis, Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal, Disease Progression, Absorptiometry, Photon, Prognosis, Severity of Illness Index, Prevalence, Risk Assessment, Risk Factors, Age Distribution, Sex Distribution, Bone Density, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Middle Aged, Female, Male, United Kingdom