One out of every three Americans over the age of 65 suffers a fall each year, making it the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among older people. Nonfatal falls often lead to fractures of the spine, leg, pelvis, forearm, upper arm, hand, and hip. A recent study presented at the IOF Regionals Asia-Pacific Osteoporosis Meeting has revealed that middle-aged to elderly men and women who lose 10 percent of their body weight increase their risk for a hip fracture by 56 percent.

"The results of this study suggest that doctors should be alert to the need to identify and manage the risk in patients who have experienced substantial weight loss,” Dr. Zhaoli Dai, from the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore, said in a statement. “Hip fractures are a major cause of disability and premature death in seniors, and it is therefore important that preventive action be taken in patients who are at high risk."

Data from this study was gathered using the Singapore Chinese Health Study, which recruited 63,257 Chinese men and women between the age of 45 and 74. Follow-up interviews were conducted on 53,322 surviving participants, on average, 5.7 years after the start of the study. Researchers identified 775 hip fractures suffered by patients at an average age of 75.3. Weight gain played no role in hip fracture risk and even reduced the patient’s risk in certain cases.

On the other hand, both men and women who lost 10 percent of their body weight or more elevated their risk of suffering a hip fracture by 56 percent compared to those who lost or gain less than five percent. Participants who were considered overweight at the study’s enrollment before going on to lose 10 percent of their body weight experienced the greatest risk for a hip fracture.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, around half of all women and a third of all men will suffer a fragility fracture at some point in their lifetime making it more common than a heart attack, cancer, or stroke. While hip fracture may seem like a nonfatal injury, the 30-day mortality rate after suffering one is an estimated nine percent. That risk of death increases to 17 percent if the patient has a preexisting acute medical problem.

Source: Dai Z, et al. Association between body weight change and risk of hip fracture among Singapore Chinese. Osteoporosis International. 2014.