Osteoporosis is highly prevalent in the United States and around the world. It’s most common in certain groups, such as women and people over 65 years.

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Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to lose density and become weak. This increases the risk of fractures. Osteoporosis is very common, especially in women and people over 65 years. Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but the prevalence of osteoporosis varies by age, gender, and ethnicity.

Learn more about osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is the most common type of bone disease. It’s prevalent around the world. Estimates suggest osteoporosis affects 10 million Americans and about 75 million people in the United States, Europe, and Japan combined. Total global numbers are unknown, but it’s believed osteoporosis is underdiagnosed in many countries.

Prevalence is the percentage or proportion of a population who have a specific trait, characteristic, or condition — it is how common a condition is within a group of people. For instance, about 10 million Americans have osteoporosis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) compared this number with the total number of Americans over 50 years to find that 12.6% of adults in this age group have osteoporosis. That means that 12.6% is the prevalence of osteoporosis in Americans over 50 years.


Incidence and prevalence both provide information about how common or rare a condition is, but they’re not the same. Prevalence is a measure of the percentage of the population that has a condition, while incidence is a measure of how many new cases have occurred in a set time period.

Using osteoporosis as an example, this means that prevalence measures how many people have osteoporosis in total, and incidence measures how many people are diagnosed with osteoporosis in a specific year.

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Osteoporosis is more prevalent in women. Over 80% of all people with osteoporosis in the United States are women. The gap is more significant in people under 65 years, but osteoporosis is more prevalent in women of all age groups. Worldwide, it’s estimated that two-thirds of all women 90 years and older have osteoporosis.

Language Matters

You’ll notice we use the binary terms “women” and “men” in this article. While we realize these terms may not match your gender experience, they are the terms used by the researchers whose data was cited. We try to be as specific as possible when reporting on research participants and clinical findings.

Unfortunately, the studies and surveys referenced in this article didn’t report data for or may not have had participants who are transgender, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, agender, or genderless.

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The prevalence of osteoporosis increases with age. Looking again at American adults over 50 years, the prevalence of osteoporosis in adults between 50 and 64 years is 8.4%. The prevalence of osteoporosis in adults over 65 years is 17.7%.

These numbers see age-related jumps across genders. The prevalence of osteoporosis is 13.1% in women between 50 and 64 years and 27.1% in women over 65 years. The prevalence of osteoporosis is 3.3% in men between 50 and 64 years and 5.7% in men over 65 years.

In the United States, the prevalence of osteoporosis varies between ethnic and racial groups. Osteoporosis is most prevalent in Mexican Americans, at 13.2%. The prevalence of osteoporosis is 9% in White Americans and 4.2% in Black Americans.

Often, the first symptom of osteoporosis is a broken bone. When a bone breaks, it can lead to severe pain and lasting symptoms such as loss of height or spine curvature. Since osteoporosis weakens the bones, it can cause a fracture from events that would not normally cause a break, such as minor falls, bending, lifting objects, or coughing and sneezing.

A loss of bone mass causes osteoporosis. Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but there are some risk factors that make it more likely. These include:

  • Body size: People who are slender and small-framed have a higher risk of osteoporosis.
  • Family history of osteoporosis: Your risk of osteoporosis increases if one or both of your parents have the condition.
  • Low hormonal levels: Low levels of estrogen before or after menopause can increase the risk of osteoporosis. Low testosterone in men can also increase the chance.
  • Diet: A diet low in calcium, protein, and vitamin D can increase the chance of osteoporosis.
  • Disordered eating: A history of any eating disorder or repeated very low calorie diets can lead to an increased risk.
  • Certain medical conditions: Multiple medical conditions can increase the chance of osteoporosis, including some cancers, HIV, endocrine and gastrointestinal conditions, and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Certain medications: The use of some medications, including antiepileptics, cancer medications, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), glucocorticoids, and some diabetes medications, is linked to an increase in osteoporosis risk.
  • Lack of exercise: Inactivity can increase your risk.
  • Heavy alcohol use: Alcohol use has effects throughout the body and can increase your chance of osteoporosis.
  • Smoking: Smoking has links with many health effects, including a higher chance of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is chronic, but treatment can help. Treatments for osteoporosis can slow bone loss and might even reverse some damage. Treatment has a link with a lower risk of fracture.

Where is osteoporosis most prevalent?

Research indicates that osteoporosis is most prevalent in Africa. Data from one study found that 39.5% of people in Africa had osteoporosis.

What part of the body is affected most often by osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis primarily affects your hips, spine, and wrists.

What’s the average age for osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is most often diagnosed in people who are over 65 years.

Osteoporosis is a very common bone condition. It is most prevalent in women and its prevalence increases in people who are over 65 years. Factors such as ethnicity, family history, medical history, body size, the medications you take, and your lifestyle can all influence your risk for osteoporosis.