Doctors predict a "fracture tsunami" is about to hit the ageing population.
Recent research shows osteoporosis - a condition where the bones become brittle and fragile - accounts for more days in hospital than any other disease.
The figures come from a report Gaps and Solutions in Bone Health; A Global Framework for Improvement issued by the International Osteoporosis Foundation and compiled by bone specialists from different parts of the world.
Professor Ian Reid of Auckland University, an expert in the treatment of bone diseases, told RNZ's Sunday Morning that the fact people are living longer means more problems with bone fractures should be expected.
Average lifespans for women are now in the early 80s, and men in the late 70s - five to 10 years more than 30 years ago - and Prof Reid said osteoporosis was usually contracted by people in their 70s.
About half of adult women will contract the disease and about a third of adult men, he said.
He said in contrast to other medical problems, people are more likely to get osteoporosis if they are too thin than if they are overweight.
Bone fractures, aside from often being very painful, can leave the patient much less mobile.
Prof Reid is calling for more work to be done on preventing fractures and for post-menopausal women to have their bone density checked.