Bone mineral density in healthy adult Indian population: the Chandigarh Urban Bone Epidemiological Study (CUBES)



Osteoporosis is a disease with a high burden of morbidity. For its accurate diagnosis, using indigenous data as reference standards is needed. However, normative data on bone density is lacking in India. Therefore, we aimed to determine the reference range for bone density for the healthy population of north India.


Osteoporosis is a major public health problem around the globe including India, resulting in significant morbidity, mortality, and health care burden. However, the reference values used for its diagnosis are largely based on data from the western population, which may lead to over- or underdiagnosis of osteoporosis in Indians. Our study aimed to determine the reference range for bone mineral density for the healthy population of India.


This is a cross-sectional study of 825 subjects (men 380, women 445) (median age: 41 years, IQR 32–55 years), recruited by a house-to-house survey. The population was stratified into decade-wise groups and biochemical measurements including renal and liver function tests, glycated hemoglobin, serum calcium, 25-hydroxyvitamin D, parathyroid hormone, and bone mineral density were performed in all the subjects. The T-scores for men aged > 50 years and post-menopausal women were calculated based on the data generated from this study in young men and women aged 20–40 years.


According to the BMD manufacturer’s data, which is based on the western population, 70% of the Indian men (> 50 years) and 48% of the post-menopausal Indian women had osteopenia while 18% of the men and 25% of the women had osteoporosis. However, according to the re-calculated T-scores from the current study, only 56% and 7.2% of men and 33% and 5% of women had osteopenia and osteoporosis, respectively. An age-related decline in bone mineral density, as seen in the western population, was also seen in both Indian men and women.


We have established a reference database for BMD in healthy Indian adult population, which may have clinical implications for the diagnosis and intervention strategies for the management of osteoporosis.

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Data availability

Available on request to the corresponding author.


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The authors acknowledge the incessant efforts of Anil Saini, Pradeep, Sunil, Harwinder Singh Saini, Rashi Goel, Anmol, Seema Dahiya, Aman Puri, Shalu, Chandana Dutta, Ashutosh Kumar Arya, and Dr. Reetu Nahar, who had been an integral part of the Chandigarh Urban Bone Epidemiological Study (CUBES) since its inception. The authors also acknowledge the Indian Society of Bone and Mineral Research (ISBMR) for providing intellectual support.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation and data collection and analyses were performed by Anshita Aggarwal, Rimesh Pal, Abhilasha Garg, and Sanjay Kumar Bhadada. The first and the final drafts of the manuscript were written by Anshita Aggarwal and Rimesh Pal and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Sanjay Kumar Bhadada.

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The study was approved by the Institute Ethical Committee, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.

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Aggarwal, A., Pal, R., Bhadada, S.K. et al. Bone mineral density in healthy adult Indian population: the Chandigarh Urban Bone Epidemiological Study (CUBES). Arch Osteoporos 16, 17 (2021).

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  • Bone mineral density
  • Healthy population
  • India