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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Osteoporosis-related life habits and knowledge about osteoporosis among women in El Salvador: A cross-sectional study

Roberto Hernandez-Rauda* and Sandra Martinez-Garcia

Author Affiliations

Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad Andrés Bello, 1a Calle Poniente y 41a Avenida Norte, 2128, Colonia Flor Blanca, San Salvador, El Salvador, América Central

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2004, 5:29  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-5-29

Published: 26 August 2004



Osteoporosis is a systemic skeletal disorder, characterized by reduced bone mass, deterioration of bone structure, increased bone fragility, and increased fracture risk. It is more frequent to find among women than men at a 4:1 ratio. Evidence suggests that to adopt changes on some life habits can prevent or delay development of osteoporosis. Several osteoporosis-risk factors have been confirmed in the US and western Europe, but in El Salvador there are neither reliable epidemiological statistics about this skeletal disorder nor studies addressing osteoporosis-risk factors in women. The aim of this study was to determinate the extent of osteoporosis knowledge, the levels of both daily calcium intake and weight-bearing physical activity, and the influence of several osteoporosis-risk factors on these variables in three age groups of Salvadorean women.


In this exploratory cross-sectional study, an osteoporosis knowledge assessment questionnaire incluiding a food frequency and a physical activity record section were used to collect data and it was delivered through a face-to-face interview. A convenience sample (n = 197) comprised of three groups of women aged 25–35 years, 36–49 years, and over 49 years was taken. Among-group comparisons of means were analyzed by two-way ANOVA. To determinate the overall influence of osteoporosis-risk factors, the multivariate analysis was used.


Study results indicated that better educated women had more knowledge about osteoporosis than women with a low education level, regardless of age, even though this knowledge was rather fair. Older women got more weight-bearing physical activity at home and less at place of employment than reported by the younger women; however, neither group performed sufficient high-intensity WBPA to improve bone mass. Regardless of age, the most women consumed 60% or less than the Dietary Reference Intake of calcium and depend on household income, lactose intolerance and coffee rather than milk consumption.


In summary, the majority of women in this study have modest knowledge on osteoporosis. The knowledge base is not linked to preventive health habits, including sufficient calcium intake and performance of weight-bearing physical activities. They are thus at increased risk for low bone mass.