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  • Author: Ivana Rumbak x
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Influence of Heredity and Environment on Peak Bone Density: A Review of Studies in Croatia

One of the main determinants of who will develop osteoporosis is the amount of bone accumulated at peak bone density. There is poor agreement, however, on when peak bone density occurs. Ethnic differences were observed in age at peak bone density and their correlates. Since the diagnosis of osteoporosis and osteopaenia is based on the comparison between patients' bone mineral density (BMD) and optimal peak bone density in healthy young people (T-score), it is of great importance that each country should provide its own reference peak bone density data.

This review article presents our published results on peak bone density in Croatia and compares them with findings in other populations. Our research included 18 to 25-year-old students from Zagreb University and their parents. The results showed that peak bone mass in young Croatian women was achieved before the age of twenty, but BMD continued to increase after the mid-twenties in the long-bone cortical skeleton. BMD was comparable to the values reported by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and other studies that included the same age groups, except for the cortical part of the radius, where it was significantly lower. Men achieved peak bone density in the spine later than women, which cannot be explained by different diet or physical activity. As expected, heredity was more important for peak bone density than the environmental factors known to be important for bone health. However, the influence of heredity was not as strong as observed in most other populations. It was also weaker in the cortical than in the trabecular parts of the skeleton. Future research should include young adolescent population to define the exact age of achieving peak bone density in different skeletal sites.


Unlike fast and restaurant food, diet rich in fibre is known to contribute significantly to health. The aim of our study was to assess eating habits such as consumption of fibre-rich, fast, and restaurant food of the general population in Croatia. For this purpose we used a validated survey designed by the Polytechnic Institute Viseu in Portugal, which includes questions about demographics, good eating habits related to the consumption of the main sources of dietary fibre (fruit, vegetables, and whole grains), and unhealthy eating habits related to the consumption of fast food and restaurant meals. Between October 2014 and March 2015 we received answers from 2,536 respondents aged between 18-70 years, of whom 67.4 % were women and 32.6 % were men. Most respondents reported consuming one serving of vegetables and one piece of fruit a day, and whole grains every other day. Women and urban residents reported consuming larger amounts of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains than men (p<0.001). Men, in turn, reported eating out and eating fast food more often than women (p<0.001). Eating out highly correlated with eating fast food, which translates to lower consumption of dietary fibre (p<0.001). Higher education correlated positively with the consumption of fibre-rich food, but it also correlated positively with the consumption of fast and restaurant food (p<0.001). While eating fast food is not the predominant dietary practice in Croatia, over 50 % of respondents have reported eating fast food at least once a week. Our data also indicate that consumption of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains falls below the national and international dietary recommendations.