Milk is a great source of calcium to build better bones Photo: Thinkstock
Every time a child drinks a soft drink, he’s laying the groundwork for a dangerous bone disease. No, ﬁzzy and sugary drinks don’t cause osteoporosis. But because they’re often a substitute for a glass of milk, kids are coming up short of the calcium and vitamin D they need to build a strong skeleton. Many of them also lead a sedentary lifestyle, so they aren’t getting the bone-building beneﬁts of vigorous exercise either. These children aren’t just in jeopardy for brittle bones and fractures decades down the road: they could be at risk of osteoporosis at a younger age than ever before.
That’s a problem everyone should be concerned about. Says Dr Leon Root, author of Beautiful Bones Without Hormones, and professor of clinical orthopaedics at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York, "Osteoporosis is actually a childhood disease that manifests itself later in life." The condition causes bones to become riddled with holes, like the frame of a house that’s been attacked by termites. That can lead to broken bones, which in turn can cause deformity, chronic pain or disability.
Osteoporosis can even be fatal: 20 per cent of older people who suffer a broken hip die within a year.
Osteoporosis isn’t just your grandmother’s health threat. Although it strikes more than half of women in Australia over 60, it also menaces nearly one-third of men.
Bone loss can begin as early as 25, yet most people aren’t even aware that there’s an epidemic in the making, says Professor Nicholas Pocock, from the Department of Nuclear Medicine and Bone Densitometry at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. "Awareness is the best prevention."
There’s a new medical understanding of the best ways to protect ourselves – and our children. Simple lifestyle changes can save your bones, which can save your life, And it’s never too soon – or too late – to take action.
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