Junk Food and Bone Health

The connection between junk food and poor bone development has been researched extensively with reports being presented in the popular journal, Osteoporosis International. The research has suggested that those who grow up within close proximity to several fast food establishments are more likely to consume junk food, and they have discovered a link between the presence of these food choices and poor bone development.

It is believed that the first six years of life are the most important when it comes to bone growth. The journal goes on to suggest that living in an environment that promotes healthy food choices is the best way to encourage optimum bone health. The foods that children consume are obviously dependent on the choices of their parents or guardians. Therefore it is essential that these adults understand the best ways to provide a balanced and nutritious diet to their children. This behaviour is then much more likely to be adopted by the children as they grow into adults themselves. 

The researchers, who conducted their study at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, believe that limiting access to fast food is the answer. Far from just helping with initial bone growth, it is suggested that this dietary link will contribute to bone health throughout life. By making positive food choices, such as eating more fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grain foods, the experts suggest that bone mineral density would be much higher. With optimum bone density, children will be better protected against injury and other bone-related problems as they grow. 

The study at the University of Southampton involved 1,107 children and was conducted as an effort to understand the various factors, both dietary and lifestyle, that contribute to the general health of children and their mothers. Far from just implying that people need to make healthier food choices in order to improve the health of their bones, these experts believe the best way to move forwards is to live near establishments that offer healthier choices. It is predicted that this will lower the chance of a person eating junk food as they will have greater choice over more nutritious foods. Living in an area that visibly promotes a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle is increasingly being seen as a fantastic way to inspire people towards a better way of life. This can be observed both in terms of physical health and mental health. Exercise and healthy eating initiatives taken by local councils can be extremely beneficial for guiding the residents of a local area into making better choices. 

The researchers believe that if a more extensive study, involving more participants over a larger geographical area, was to be conducted then their predictions could be confirmed. In the United Kingdom over the past few years much has been done to try and promote the importance that the diet has as part of a healthy lifestyle. Regulations now prevent fast food establishments from existing within 400 meters of a school. This regulation is part of a wider effort to promote healthy meals in schools and to ensure children do not have easy access to junk food during school hours.

On the 20th of October, World Osteoporosis Day will be recognised around the globe. The message of this event this year is to “serve up bone strength” and there will be several initiatives taking place to encourage healthy bone growth.

Eating a healthy diet is a very general way to preserve the health of your bones but there are more specific things you can do too. Including calcium in your diet should always be a priority, with almonds, broccoli, kale and tofu being fantastic dietary sources. Vitamin D is also essential for optimum bone health and getting out into the sunshine is the best natural way to get this vitamin into your body! Taking care of yourself in terms of not drinking alcohol excessively, smoking or taking controlled drugs is incredibly beneficial when it comes to the health of your bones. You will also find that regularly engaging in physical activity will be great for your bones as well as your physical and mental health in general.

Poor bone health is of course not the only reason that junk food should be avoided in favour of a healthy diet. Keeping obesity rates down is key for the health of the next generation. Not only does obesity massively impact on the quality of a person's life, but it also costs the healthcare systems of various countries a huge amount of money every year. In 2007 the cost of obesity to the National Health Service in the United Kingdom was £2.3 billion. The costs to the healthcare system in the United States are also high. In 2008 these costs were approximately $147 billion, with projections of yearly increases proving to be accurate.

References

1) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/300940.php

2) http://www.iofbonehealth.org/world-osteoporosis-day

3) http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/bone-health/art-20045060?pg=2