Risk of Hip Fracture Among Meat-Eaters, Pescatarians, and Vegetarians


Diet is a very important aspect of a person’s health that protects you against diseases and gives you the energy you need to perform your day-to-day activities. According to National Geographic, human diets are commonly based on a person’s nutritional needs, the types of food available in a particular place, and cultural beliefs. Hence, several diets have emerged throughout the years, including vegan, pescatarian, carnivore diets, and many more.

Apart from its impact on a person’s health and nutrition, a recent study suggests that the risk of hip fracture can be linked to a person’s diet. The study assessed 35,372 women across the United Kingdom aged 35–69 years to investigate the risk of hip fracture in occasional meat-eaters, pescatarians, and vegetarians compared to regular meat-eaters and determine if body mass index (BMI) affects potential links between each diet group and hip fracture risk. We will explore the crucial findings of the said study in this article to understand better how your diet could potentially affect your risk of hip fracture.


Hip fractures are a very common issue among older women and are becoming more widespread across the globe due to the increasing population of older people. According to the source, health-related quality of life diminishes after hip fracture and death increases. There are also substantial social and economic costs that result from hip fractures which involve an international average cost of 12 months after the first hip fracture of $44,000 per patient.

With this, concerns regarding bone health and fracture risk among individuals on meat-free diets are increasing. According to statistics, around 5% of the US population, 3% of the UK population, and 30% of India’s population have vegetarian diets, and these numbers continue to increase worldwide. Therefore, understanding hip fracture risk in vegetarians, in particular, is becoming more important.

Risk of Hip Fractures Among Meat Eaters, Pescatarians, and Vegetarians

According to the new study under BMC medicine, vegetarians, excluding occasional meat-eaters or pescatarians, have a higher risk of hip fracture than regular meat-eaters. This increased risk of hip fracture in vegetarians compared to regular meat-eaters may be partly explained by: 

  • The differences in body anthropometrics such as weight, height, waist, and hip circumference between the diet groups. 
  • Lower BMI among vegetarians can also contribute to their increased risk of hip fractures. 
  • Other possible relations between hip fractures, BMI, and lower body weight among vegetarians can include the protective roles of bone mass, fat mass, and muscle mass.  
  • A source also states that 90% of hip fractures result from lessened cushioning from impact force at the hip during falls due to insufficient fat mass. 
  • Another potential reason vegetarians lower intake of nutrients important to bone health that are abundant in animal products.
  • Vegetarians do not often meet the necessary protein intake, which is vital in increasing muscle mass and has major benefits for bone health.

Key Takeaway

Overall, vegetarian women were at a higher risk of hip fracture than regular meat-eaters. Understanding the relationship between hip fracture risks and diet can be strengthened by confirming the findings among men and other races. Researchers should also consider the role of BMI and abundant nutrients in animal-sourced foods to explain the said relationship better.

Journal Reference

Webster, J., Greenwood, D. C., & Cade, J. E. (2022). Risk of hip fracture in meat-eaters, pescatarians, and vegetarians: Results from the UK women’s cohort study. BMC Medicine, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-022-02468-0 

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