Bone Mass and Activity

The prevalence of osteoporosis is increasing in modern society. Fragile bones make life difficult and painful. We know that our adult bone mass was determined during childhood.

Although I avoid nutritional supplements like multivitamins, I am a huge advocate of taking vitamin D. The new government guidelines on vitamin D (see here – ) suggest that from an early age, in the UK we should be taking 10μg of vitamin D every day.

Another interesting angle on bone health is exercise. Two studies have interested me recently – the first is an Australian study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Health (2016). It shows that children who watched the greatest amount of television (more than 2 hours per day) had the lowest bone density by the time they reached the age of 20. The children who watched the lowest amount of television had much better bone health. Reasons for these results are of course multi-factorial: if children are watching television, it’s likely that they are spending less time in other activities (such as exercise). Drinking softdrinks and eating junk food are also associated with tv watching and these will have a negative effect on bone health. Furthermore, sitting for long periods (as in watching tv or using the computer) is thought alter bone metabolism – just as bed-rest studies show people who are bed-ridden have poor bone health.

Participation in high-impact sports at an early age (under 10 years) has also been found to have a positive effect on adult bone mass. I know many parents aren’t keen to introduce children to running clubs, football training etc until they reach secondary school, but a recent study from Brazil (2016) shows that participation in sports involving running and jumping early in life will have the best outcomes on adult bone health.

Hayley Kuter

Paediatric Dietitian


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