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"Invest in Your Bones-Prevent the first fracture" theme promoted by IOF's members in 75 countries

NYON, Switzerland
October 20, 2002 – World Osteoporosis Day

For the first time, the impact of osteoporosis in the workplace has been surveyed in a popular report.

The publication, Osteoporosis in the Workplace: The social, economic and human costs of osteoporosis on employees, employers and governments, estimates that the annual direct cost of treating osteoporosis fractures of people in the workplace in the USA, Canada and Europe alone is approximately $48 billion. This amount is similar in scope to the estimated $53.7 billion spent annually on global foreign development aid.

"This huge cost does not include the indirect economic costs and the huge emotional price that has to be paid by someone who has broken a vertebra or hip," notes Professor Pierre D. Delmas, president of International Osteoporosis Foundation – IOF, which issued the report as part of World Osteoporosis Day activities.

Professor Jean Yves Reginster, director of the WHO Collaborating Center in Liege, Belgium and IOF general secretary, cautions that the calculations of direct costs are preliminary. "Much more research is needed," he said. "Also, we should remember that osteoporosis also results in huge indirect costs that are rarely calculated and which are probably at least 20% of the direct costs. For example, a worker with osteoporosis might lose her or his job, incur medical expenses that are never calculated by economists, and suffer other economic losses. And of course the human suffering, described in the report's case histories, is immense but economically incalculable."

Compiled and written by Florent Richy, University of Liege, Belgium, the report notes:

  • Just one in two vertebral fractures is diagnosed by a physician.
  • Less than 10% – 20% of all osteoporosis patients receive timely treatment.
  • Vertebral fractures are more serious as a workplace problem than are hip fractures because they are more likely to afflict younger people, even around the age of 50 or earlier.
  • The worldwide cost burden of osteoporosis (for all ages) is forecast to increase to $131.5 billion by 2050.
  • Specific recommendations are given for the individual, the physician, other health care professionals, researchers, and the public health sector.

The Spanish edition of the report will be launched in Spanish at the 3rd IOF Latin American Conference on Osteoporosis at Isla de Margarita in Venezuela October 16-20.

The international English edition will be launched at the 3rd International Meeting on Social and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis, Barcelona, Spain, November 7-9, 2002.

The report follows on the 2001 World Osteoporosis Day IOF report Invest in Your Bones: The impact of life style, nutrition and genetics on young peoples' bone development which has been translated into 23 languages.

Other World Osteoporosis Day activities.

World Osteoporosis Day provides an important focal point for informing the general public and policy makers about the prevention of a disease which still suffers from poor general awareness.

The WOD 2002 message is "Invest in Your Bones: Prevent the first fracture". Why does IOF emphasize prevention of the first fracture? The risk of a cascade effect resulting in future fractures is high (one out of five women suffering a first vertebral fracture will fracture again within one year). Also, high hospital and treatment costs make it more effective for government health care services and insurance companies to prevent the first fracture than to treat fractures.

World Osteoporosis Day around the world

National osteoporosis societies around the world will host press conferences and produce special TV broadcasts in celebration of World Osteoporosis Day

Information Templates

For WOD, IOF has produced three templates for use globally: Consequences of first fracture, Individual action, and What needs to be done.


IOF has designed a WOD poster showing a breaking wishbone, based on a design produced by Lebanese Osteoporosis Prevention Society, and IOF member.

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