Race and sex differences and contribution of height: A study on bone size in healthy Caucasians and Chinese

Yuan Yuan Zhang, Peng Yuan Liu, Yan Lu, K. Michael Davies, Volodymyr Dvornyk, Robert R. Recker, Hong Wen Deng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Osteoporosis is characterized by a loss of bone strength, of which bone size (BS) is an important determinant. However, studies on the factors determining BS are relatively few. The present study evaluated the independent effects of height, age, weight, sex, and race on areal BS at the hip and spine, measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, while focusing on the differential contributions of height to BS across sex, race, and skeletal site. The subjects were aged 40 years or older, including 763 Chinese (384 males and 379 females) from Shanghai, People's Republic of China, and 424 Caucasians (188 males and 236 females) from Omaha, Nebraska. Basically, Caucasians had significantly larger BS than Chinese. After adjusting for height, age, and weight, the Chinese had similar spine BS, but significantly larger intertrochanter BS in both sexes and larger total hip BS in females compared with Caucasians. Males had significantly larger BS than females before and after adjustment in both ethnic groups. The effects of age, weight, and race varied, depending on skeletal site. As expected, height had major effects on BS variation in both sexes and races. Height tended to account for larger BS variation at the spine than at the hip (except for Chinese females), and larger BS variation in Caucasians than in Chinese of the same sex (except for the trochanter in females). We conclude that height is a major predictor for BS, and its contributions vary across sex, race, and skeletal site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)568-575
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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