On World Osteoporosis Day yesterday, the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said that on average, 12.3 percent of people aged 65 to 74 in Taiwan have osteoporosis, and suggested three preventive measures people could take from an early age.
The theme chosen by the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) for its campaign this year was “That’s Osteoporosis,” which aimed to “emphasize the direct link between osteoporosis and broken bones, which have a serious, life-changing effect in terms of pain, disability, lost independence and the inability to carry out everyday tasks,” the HPA said.
People with osteoporosis usually have mild or no symptoms initially, and even when they begin to notice they are becoming shorter or have kyphosis, also known as roundback or hunchback, many people think it is a normal sign of aging, the HPA said.
Osteoporosis is often only diagnosed when a fall or sudden impact causes a bone to fracture, it said.
The HPA conducted a Nutrition and Health Survey in Taiwan from 2015 to last year.
The survey found that 6.8 percent of women and 4.6 percent of men (an average of 5.7 percent) aged 50 to 64 had osteoporosis, while 18.7 percent of women and 6.8 percent of men (an average of 12.3 percent) aged 65 to 74 had it, and 29.3 percent of women and 19.4 percent of men (an average of 24.5 percent) aged 75 and older had it.
The IOF suggested that a 10 percent increase in peak bone mineral density, a measure of bone strength, at an earlier age could delay the development of osteoporosis by 13 years, so it suggested three steps to help prevent the disease, the HPA said.
First, maintain a balanced diet that includes the six major food groups and consume plenty of calcium, vitamin D, protein and vegetables.
Second, participate in outdoor activities, as exposure to sunlight aids vitamin D production and calcium absorption. Do weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, hiking, jogging, dancing or lifting weights, to increase bone density and muscle strength, and avoid smoking, excessive drinking and staying up late.
Third, learn the familial risk factors of osteoporosis, such as from parents who have had a bone fracture, especially a hip fracture. People who are taking steroid medication, post-menopausal women, or women who have had an oophorectomy or had premature menopause, should be more aware of their bone health.