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J Epidemiol. 2014;24(3):209-15. Epub 2014 Mar 20.

Influence of nutrition and lifestyle on bone mineral density in children from adoptive and biological families.

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  • 1Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health.



The precise contributions of hereditary and environmental factors to bone density are not known. We compared lifestyle predictors of bone density among adopted and biological children.


The study comprised 18 adopted children (mean [SD] age, 14.0 [4.1] years) with their non-biological parents and 17 children with their biological parents. Bone mineral density (BMD; g/cm(2)) was measured at the lumbar spine, total femur, and distal radius. Nutritional intake was assessed by food frequency questionnaire. Information on smoking and physical activity was obtained by questionnaire.


Intakes of all nutrients, corrected for energy intake, and all lifestyle characteristics except sleep duration were similar in biological children and their parents. As compared with their parents, adopted children had significantly different energy, protein, and calcium intakes and physical activity levels. In a regression model, BMD z scores of adopted children and their parents were significantly inversely associated at the spine and total femur, whereas BMD z scores of biological children and their parents were significantly positively associated at all measurement sites. The greatest proportion of total variance in BMD was accounted for by calcium intake among adopted children and by parental BMD among biological children.


For some lifestyle characteristics and nutrient intakes, the differences between parents and children were more obvious among adoptive families than among biological families. The most important lifestyle predictor of bone density was calcium intake.

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