Some observational studies have reported that osteoporosis and fracture rates are higher in countries that consume the most milk, compared to Asian countries where very little milk is consumed. These types of studies do not imply a direct cause and effect. Rather, they point at possible associations between two selected factors without taking into account other potential contributing factors such as vitamin D status and physical activity levels.
In fact, in highly urbanized Asian cities (such as Hong Kong) where people have more sedentary lifestyles, hip fracture rates are the same as in the US.
Recent reports indicate that the burden of osteoporosis and fractures has been severely underestimated in Asia. With an aging population, there has been a 2- to 3-fold increase in the incidence of hip fractures. It is estimated that by 2050, over half of all hip fractures worldwide will occur in Asia, with the majority in China.
By Rola Zahr, RD
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