Who gets osteoporosis?

Generally osteoporosis is under-diagnosed. Because osteoporosis has no overt symptoms, it is often not diagnosed until a fracture occurs. It is therefore difficult to determine the true prevalence of the condition (that is, the number of people with the condition). Information about 'diagnosed cases' is likely to underestimate the actual prevalence of the condition.

About 720,000 Australians aged 50 years and over (10% of this age group) have osteoporosis, based on self-reported data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2014–15 National Health Survey (NHS). This includes people who were told by a doctor or nurse that they had osteoporosis or osteopenia.

Osteoporosis is more common in women than men. In 2014–15, 15% of women aged 50 and over self-reported having osteoporosis compared to 4% of men.

Older age groups also tend to be affected. The proportion of women with osteoporosis dramatically increases with age, affecting around 26% of women aged 80 and over (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Prevalence of self-reported osteoporosis, people aged 50 and over, 2014–15

The vertical bar chart shows that osteoporosis in people aged 50 and over is more common in females than males.

Source: AIHW analysis of ABS Microdata: National Health Survey, 2014–15 (Data table).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

According to self-reported data from the ABS 2012–13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (AATSIHS), rates of osteoporosis among Indigenous Australians were similar to rates reported for total Australians.

Figure 2: Prevalence of osteoporosis by Indigenous status, 2012–13

The vertical bar chart shows that, after adjusting for age, rates of osteoporosis among Indigenous Australians were similar to rates reported for total Australians.

Note: Rates are age-standardised to the Australian population as at 30 June 2001.

Source: AIHW analysis of ABS Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (unpublished), 2012–13 (Data table).