Bone density and frame size in adult women: Effects of body size, habitual use, and life history

Katharine M.N. Lee, Mary P. Rogers-LaVanne, Andrzej Galbarczyk, Grazyna Jasienska, Kathryn B.H. Clancy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Bone mineral density (BMD) and frame size are important predictors of future bone health, with smaller frame size and lower BMD associated with higher risk of later fragility fractures. We test the effects of body size, habitual use, and life history on frame size and cortical BMD of the radius and tibia in sample of healthy adult premenopausal women. Methods: We used anthropometry and life history data from 123 women (age 18-46) from rural Poland. Standard techniques were used to measure height, weight, and body fat. Life history factors were recorded using surveys. Grip strength was measured as a proxy for habitual activity, wrist breadth for skeletal frame size. Cortical BMD was measured at the one-third distal point of the radius and mid-point of the tibia using quantitative ultrasound (reported as speed of sound, SoS). Results: Radial SoS was high (mean t-score 3.2 ± 1.6), but tibia SoS was average (mean t-score 0.35 ± 1.17). SoS was not associated with age, although wrist breadth was positively associated with age after adjusting for height. Radius SoS was not associated with measures of body size, habitual use, or life history factors. Wrist breadth was associated with body size (p <.05 for all), lean mass, and grip strength. Tibia SoS was associated with height. Life history factors were not associated with frame size or cortical SoS. Conclusions: Habitual use and overall body size are more strongly associated with frame size and cortical SoS than life history factors in this sample of healthy adult women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere23502
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anatomy


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