Infants’ Bone Development May be Weakened by Fast Food
Medical experts from the University of Southampton in the UK have found that eating too much fast food during childhood could also lead to poor bone development (in the UK, the word “infants” is broad, including toddlers and young children). The study also focused on the diet choices of pregnant women and mothers of young children.
A team of researchers selected 1,107 children participating in the Southampton Women’s Survey to be the subjects of their study. The children’s bone mineral density and bone mineral content were measured at birth and remeasured when the children reached 4 and/or 6 years old.
The researchers also took note of the number of grocery stores, health food stores and fast food restaurants in the areas where the children live.
They discovered that children who had more access to fast food stores and less exposure to healthy food and product stores have poor bone growth, whereas those who lived closer to healthy food sources were found to have better bone development.
“Greater neighborhood access to fast-food outlets was associated with lower bone mass among infants,” the researchers wrote in their study. “The neighborhood food environment that pregnant mothers and young children are exposed to may affect bone development during early childhood.”
Identifying factors that could influence childhood bone development could then help clinicians and health care professionals on developing strategies to promote bone growth and promote long-term health in the future.
Researchers believe that the value of their study could help improve healthy growth in children. They then pointed out that a healthy diet is essential in meeting these goals, and that fast food does not contain the important nutrients that children need during this critical phase to supplement the growth of healthy bones, muscles and organs.
Families who have better access to health education and sources of healthy food choices will be able to develop stronger bones for their children.
“Exposure of mothers and children to more healthy food environments might optimize childhood bone development through its influence on the quality of the maternal diet and dietary choices during childhood,” said co-author Cyrus Cooper, chairman of the International Osteoporosis Foundation. He added that more research is needed to confirm their findings.
Once the results are validated by future studies, actions to make children stronger and healthier can be done, such as providing neighborhoods with more sources of nutritious food and reducing access to fast food.
The researcher’s findings are published in the journal Osteoporosis International. The publication also coincided with World Osteoporosis Day on Oct. 20.