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J Am Coll Nutr. 1998 Apr;17(2):128-35.

Stress fractures in female army recruits: implications of bone density, calcium intake, and exercise.

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Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, USA.



To identify characteristics and factors associated with increased risk for stress fractures in military women.


Case-control study to retrospectively examine physical activity, prior calcium intake, and bone density as predictors of stress fractures.


A military training installation which incorporates physical training for women.


Forty-nine female soldiers with confirmed stress fractures (cases) and 78 female soldiers with no orthopedic injuries (controls), aged 18 to 33 years.


Retrospective self-reports of habitual exercise, sports participation, and food intake; current height, weight, and body mass index (BMI); demographic variables (age, ethnicity, menstrual patterns, smoking habits); and bone density on radiologically defined stress fractures.


Cases and controls were similar in height, weight, and BMI. Measurements of bone density (g/cm2) at the trochanter (cases, 0.77+/-0.09; controls, 0.77+/-0.08); femoral neck (cases, 0.94+/-0.10; controls, 0.94+/-0.09); Ward's triangle (cases, 0.91+/-0.11; controls, 0.93+/-0.11); lumbar spine (cases, 1.21+/-0.12; controls, 1.24+/-0.10); and radius shaft (cases, 0.67+/-0.09; controls, 0.68+/-0.05) were not different between groups. Calcium intake was not different between groups (cases, 1154+/-751 mg/day; controls, 944+/-513 mg/day) and did not correlate with bone density (r=0.01 to -0.06 at four sites). Sports participation positively correlated with bone density in the hip (r=0.49). Leisure activity energy expenditure (kcal/day) tended toward association with lower stress fracture risk as expenditure level increased (p=0.06).


Stress fracture in female Army recruits was not correlated with bone density or calcium intake during adolescence, although a weak relationship to prior physical activity was observed.

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