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Fast Food Linked to Poor Bone Development in Children

Child with big burger

Our busy work lives has left us with no time for cooking proper meals and dangerously dependent on fast food. Well, not only has fast food long been known to be detrimental to our health, but a new study also says it’s very bad for the bone development in children.

The study in question is the first to investigate the connection between a neighborhood’s food environment and the bone development in childhood (i.e. the first 6 years of life) and found that there might indeed be an association between the two.

Using data collected on 1,107 children in the Southampton Women’s Survey, the researchers sought to learn more about the dietary and lifestyle factors that influence the health of women and their children. To do so, they compared the bone mineral density and content of children at birth, as well as at age 4 and 6, to the number of supermarkets, healthy specialty stores and fast food outlets in their neighborhoods.

The results showed that neighborhoods with a higher number of fast food outlets had a higher percentage of newborns with lower bone mineral density and bone mineral, while there was no significant link with children age 4 and 6. Conversely, neighborhoods that had healthier options were associated with notably more 4- and 6-year-old children with higher bone mineral density than in fast food-laden neighborhoods.

Cyrus Cooper, a professor of rheumatology and director of the Medical Research Council Life course Epidemiology Unit at Southampton and the co-author of the study, suggested that mothers and children exposed to healthier food environments can maximize childhood bone development through the quality of the maternal diet and dietary choices during childhood.

He added that, if future studies further validated the findings, improving the food environment in cities and towns could benefit children’s bone development. There have already been initiatives and campaigns to improve the food environment in some parts of the United Kingdom, with a few local governments currently working on regulations that prevent fast food outlets from operating within 400 meters of schools.

Considering that numerous research have shown that having a balanced diet with adequate amounts of fruits, vegetables, protein, calcium and vitamin D helps develop healthy bones throughout life, don’t you think it’s about time you got with the program.

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