Healthy lifestyle interventions in general practice Part 13: Lifestyle and osteoporosis

Journal Article


Journal Title

South African Family Practice

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

South African Academy of Family Physicians


University of Cape Town

Osteoporosis is defined as a systemic skeletal disease that is characterised by low bone mass and microarchitectural deterioration of bone tissue, with a consequent increase in bone fragility and susceptibility to fractures. Therefore, the diagnosis of osteoporosis is based on measurement of bone mineral density (BMD) using central (axial) dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and clinical evidence of a fragility fracture (history or radiological evidence). Osteoporosis is a major public health problem, affecting about 30% of postmenopausal women of Caucasian origin, and 70% of those aged 80 years. The risk factors for osteoporosis include lifestyle factors, genetic/ethnic factors, specific diseases causing secondary osteoporosis, ageing factors, qualitative factors, and drugs that are toxic to bone. In addition, there are specific additional risk factors for falls that need to be considered. It is well established that lifestyle factors, including physical activity, nutritional intervention, psychosocial intervention, smoking cessation and other lifestyle factor interventions are key elements in the prevention and management of osteoporosis. Guidelines for these lifestyle interventions in the prevention and management of osteoporosis are reviewed.