Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Ecology

Major Professor

Roy E. Beauchene

Committee Members

Bill C. Wallace, Dileep S. Sachan, Carol A. Costello


This research was a 15-year follow-up study of the relationships of age, physical measurements, diet group (non-vegetarian, NV; vegetarian, V), use of estrogen, dietary intakes of energy, calcium, and bone density in 60 healthy postmenopausal NV (n=31) and V (n=29) women, (age range 53-92). The V group was comprised of 29 lacto-ovo-vegetarian women, the remaining 31 subjects were NV. All subjects had been participants in an earlier (1976-1979) bone density study conducted in these laboratories. Measurements of height, weight, triceps skinfold thickness (TSF), and bone density of the radius and ulna were made (single photon absorptiometry); 7-day dietary records, and 24-hr urine samples, were obtained on each subject. Mean intakes of energy and nutrients were calculated from the dietary records. The urine samples were analyzed for calcium, creatinine, and hydroxyproline (HOP).

Physical parameters for the groups were similar in 1991 except for the NV showing a trend toward greater weight and body mass index (BMI) than the V group. NV had higher intakes of protein, saturated fat, cholesterol and caffeine than V. Conversely, it was the V which demonstrated higher intakes of carbohydrate and fiber than the NV. Of the 8 vitamin intakes studied, NV had the higher intake of vitamin B12 and V had the higher intake of vitamin B6. Mineral intakes were similar between NV and V except for V having the greater intake of iron.

Decrements were seen in height and TSF in both NV and V over the 15-yr period. The increase in BMI for V was significant. Both NV and V exhibited decrements in intakes of energy, protein, fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. NV caffeine intake also showed a decrement. A non-significant increase in fiber intake was seen in both NV and V. No changes were noted for vitamin intakes, except for decrements in vitamin B12 of both groups. Intakes of sodium and iron showed decrements from 1976 to 1991. Both groups met RDA's except for those of calcium and zinc.

Age, energy intake, body weight, dietary calcium, diet group (NV or V), protein intake, and use of estrogen were considered as predictors of bone density of the radius and the ulna; all were significant except energy and protein. Supplemental calcium was not found to contribute to bone density. At age 50 and 80 yr. predicted bone densities of the radius and ulna were greater in the NV than the V group. Use of estrogen by both diet groups increased bone density of the radius and ulna. Urinary calcium was higher in NV than V. HOP excretion did not significantly differ between NV and V. Urinary excretion of HOP and calcium were not found to be correlated current bone density or to bone loss, but creatinine excretion was negatively correlated to loss of bone density in both the NV and V groups. Creatinine excretion was greater in NV than V. It can be concluded that age, body weight, dietary calcium intake, choice of diet group, and use of estrogen are all predictors of bone density in these subjects.

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