Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Dietary calcium, physical activity, and risk of hip fracture: a prospective study.

British Medical Journal 1989; 299 doi: (Published 07 October 1989) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1989;299:889
  1. C. A. Wickham,
  2. K. Walsh,
  3. C. Cooper,
  4. D. J. Barker,
  5. B. M. Margetts,
  6. J. Morris,
  7. S. A. Bruce
  1. Epidemiology Unit, Southampton General Hospital.


    OBJECTIVE--To determine whether low dietary calcium intake and physical inactivity are risk factors for hip fracture among subjects aged 65 and over. DESIGN--Fifteen year follow up study of a large cohort of randomly selected elderly people living in the community, who had taken part in the 1973-4 survey of the Department of Health and Social Security, and for whom dietary and other data were recorded at initial interview and medical assessment. SETTING--Eight areas in Britain (England (five), Wales (one), and Scotland (two]. SUBJECTS--1688 Subjects living in the community, of whom 1419 subjects (720 men and 699 women) agreed to participate. 1356 Subjects completed a seven day dietary record and 983 (542 men and 441 women) agreed to be assessed by a geriatrician. RESULTS--Incidence of hip fracture increased with age and was higher in women than men. Comparison with matched controls showed no evidence that the risk of hip fracture was related to calcium intake: the odds ratio for the lowest third of dietary calcium compared with the highest was 0.7 (95% confidence interval 0.1 to 3.9) after adjustment for smoking and body mass index. The adjusted odds ratio for the lowest third of outdoor activity compared with the highest was 4.3 (0.7 to 26.8), and that for grip strength was 3.9 (0.7 to 23.0). CONCLUSIONS--Reduced intake of dietary calcium does not seem to be a risk factor for hip fracture. Further evidence is provided that physical activity in the elderly protects against hip fracture.