Bone density in an immigrant population from Southeast Asia

M. A. Marquez, L. J. Melton, J. M. Muhs, C. S. Crowson, A. Tosomeen, M. K. O'Connor, W. M. O'Fallon, B. L. Riggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The epidemiology of bone loss in populations of Asian heritage is still poorly known. This study compared the skeletal status of a convenience sample of 396 Southeast Asian immigrants (172 Vietnamese, 171 Cambodians and 53 Laotians) residing in Rochester, Minnesota in 1997 with 684 white subjects previously recruited from an age-stratified random sample of community residents. Areal bone mineral density (BMD, g/cm2) and volumetric bone mineral apparent density (BMAD, g/cm3) were determined for lumbar spine and proximal femur using the Hologic QDR 2000 instrument for the white population and the QDR 4500 for Southeast Asian subjects; the machines were cross-calibrated from data on 20 volunteers. Lumbar spine BMD was 7% higher in white than Southeast Asian women (p < 0.001), and similar results were observed for the femoral neck; lumbar spine BMD was 12% higher in white than nonwhite men (p < 0.001). Race-specific discrepancies were reduced by calculating BMAD: for premenopausal women, lumbar spine and femoral neck differences between whites and Southeast Asians were eliminated; for postmenopausal women the lumbar spine differences persisted (p < 0.0001), while femoral neck BMAD was actually higher for Southeast Asians. There were no race-specific differences in femoral neck BMAD among men of any age (p = 0.312), but lumbar spine BMAD was less for younger (p = 0.042) but not older (p = 0.693) Southeast Asian men. There were differences among the Southeast Asian subgroups, but no clear pattern emerged. Predictors of lumbar spine BMAD in Southeast Asian women were age (p < 0.001), weight (p = 0.015) and gravidity (p = 0.037). Even after adjusting for bone size using BMAD, 32% and 9% of Southeast Asian women and men, respectively, would be considered to have osteoporosis at the femoral neck and 25% and 4%, respectively, at the lumbar spine. These findings indicate a need for culturally sensitive educational interventions for Southeast Asians and for physicians to pursue diagnosis and treatment to prevent osteoporosis-related disabilities in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)595-604
Number of pages10
JournalOsteoporosis International
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2001


  • Aging
  • Bone mineral density
  • Epidemiology
  • Ethnic group
  • Osteoporosis
  • Southeast Asians

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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