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Dietary patterns, bone resorption and bone mineral density in early post-menopausal Scottish women



Several nutrients affect bone turnover. Dietary patterns may provide insights into which foods are important and how nutrition affects bone health. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between dietary patterns, bone turnover and bone mineral density (BMD).


This cross-sectional study examined 3236 Scottish women age 50–59 years, who were members of the Aberdeen Prospective Osteoporosis Screening Study. They had hip and spine BMD measurements (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) and provided samples for bone turnover markers. Diet was assessed by a validated food frequency questionnaire encompassing 98 foods, from which 35 food groups were systematically created. Dietary patterns were defined by principal components analysis. The bone measures were regressed onto the dietary pattern and adjusted for potential confounders.


Five dietary patterns were identified, three of which were associated with bone health. The ‘healthy’ pattern was associated with decreased bone resorption (r=0.081, P<0.001). Two other patterns (processed foods and snack food) were associated with lower BMD (femoral neck r=−0.056, r=−0.044, P<0.001, respectively).


Dietary pattern may influence bone turnover and BMD. A healthy dietary pattern with high intakes of fruit and vegetables may lead to less bone resorption, and a poor dietary pattern rich in processed foods is associated with a decrease in BMD. This study confirms that a healthy diet is required for strong bones, and highlights that a nutrient-poor diet is a risk factor for osteoporosis.

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This work was funded by the United Kingdom Food Standards Agency, and their Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme.

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Correspondence to A C Hardcastle.

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See Table A1 and Table A2.

Table A1 Food groupings used for analyses of dietary patterns
Table A2 Mean (±s.d.) intakes of the food groups, and percentage energy contribution of those food groups to the diet

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Hardcastle, A., Aucott, L., Fraser, W. et al. Dietary patterns, bone resorption and bone mineral density in early post-menopausal Scottish women. Eur J Clin Nutr 65, 378–385 (2011).

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  • dietary patterns
  • osteoporosis
  • fruit and vegetables
  • bone resorption
  • principal components analysis

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