A new study presented today at the 1st Asia-Pacific Osteoporosis Meeting in Singapore confirms rising rates of hip fractures in Beijing, China.

The research was based on hospital discharge data from all Beijing hospitals that treat hip fracture patients, collected from 1990-1992 and 2002-2006 and using official population census figures for 1990 and 2004. The researchers identified over- and under-reporting caused by changes in methods of reporting and in patterns of referral over these two time periods.

After adjustments were made, it was found that the rate of hip fracture increased by 82% for women aged 70–75 years and 442% for women over age 85 years, with similar increases in older men. During the same interval, the population of Beijing over age 65 more than doubled and the ownership of automobiles increased from 4 to 18 per 100 adults.

The data support the observation that hip fracture rates are rising very rapidly in China, due to the growth in the number of elderly people and increasingly sedentary lifestyles.

This is a serious concern, as hip fractures pose a major socio-economic challenge, with severe impact on health care budgets and long-term care facilities. The study is further evidence that the burden of hip fractures, long considered to be higher in Western industrialized countries and lower in Asia, is rapidly shifting from the West to the East.