Based on previously reported differences in fracture incidence in the socioeconomic less affluent Oslo East compared to the more privileged West, our aim was to study bone mineral density (BMD) in the same socioeconomic areas in Oslo. We also wanted to study whether possible associations were explained by socio-demographic factors, level of education or lifestyle factors.
Distal forearm BMD was measured in random samples of the participants in The Oslo Health Study by single energy x-ray absorptiometry (SXA). 578 men and 702 women born in Norway in the age-groups 40/45, 60 and 75 years were included in the analyses. Socioeconomic regions, based on a social index dividing Oslo in two regions – East and West, were used.
Age-adjusted mean BMD in women living in the less affluent Eastern region was 0.405 g/cm2 and significantly lower than in West where BMD was 0.419 g/cm2. Similarly, the odds ratio of low BMD (Z-score ≤ -1) was 1.87 (95% CI: 1.22–2.87) in women in Oslo East compared to West. The same tendency, although not statistically significant, was also present in men. Multivariate analysis adjusted for education, marital status, body mass index, physical inactivity, use of alcohol and smoking, and in women also use of post-menopausal hormone therapy and early onset of menopause, did hardly change the association. Additional adjustments for employment status, disability pension and physical activity at work for those below the age of retirement, gave similar results.
We found differences in BMD in women between different socioeconomic regions in Oslo that correspond to previously found differences in fracture rates. The association in men was not statistically significant. The differences were not explained by socio-demographic factors, level of education or lifestyle factors.