Children who consume fast food are more likely to suffer from poor bone development, putting them at risk for a number of health issues later in life, finds a new study.
The research, published in the recent issue of the journal Osteoporosis International, was conducted by medical experts from the UK’s University of Southampton and looked at the bone health and dietary habits of more than 1,100 children.
Researchers measured the subjects’ bone density at birth, and again at ages 4 and 6 years old. They also surveyed the subjects’ neighborhoods for the number of supermarkets, fast food restaurants, and health food stores.
The findings revealed children who had more frequent access to fast food restaurants and less exposure to healthy whole foods also had the poorest bone growth, while children who were more often exposed to healthy foods had much healthier 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."
While the study authors say more research is needed, co-author Cyrus Cooper, chairman of the International Osteoporosis Foundation added, "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."
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Poor bone development in childhood may make adults more prone to developing osteoporosis later in life.
The researchers hope that this study, along with future studies on the issue, may be used to help bring awareness to the crucial need for getting healthier food options into poorer neighborhoods.
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