Residing in a community where there is higher access to fast food shops may impact bone growth in early childhood, as reported in an initial study that examined the association between neighborhood food atmosphere and bone mass in the initial 6 years of life. This new study was presented in journal Osteoporosis International. The scientists state:
“If proved in future research, action to decrease access to fast-food outlets could have advantages for childhood development and long lasting bone health.”
The investigation team also identified that having additional healthy food choice outlets in the neighborhood is associated to greater bone mass in young children.
For their research, the scientists made use of data on 1,107 kids that was gathered in the Southampton Women’s Survey, a research project that seeks to understand the dietary and lifestyle aspects that impact the health of women and their kids.
A comparison was made of the bone mineral density and composition of kids at birth, and then at ages 4 or 6 years, to the number of supermarkets, healthy specialty outlets and fast food outlets in their area.
‘Enhancing food atmosphere could advantage bone development’
The analysis demonstrated that a greater number of fast food outlets in the surrounding area was linked to reduced bone mineral density and composition in newborns. However, this association was not significant at age 4 and 6.
In contrast, the investigators notice that having more healthy specialty outlets in the community – such as greengrocers offering fresh fruit and vegetables – was linked to greater bone mineral density at age 4 and 6.
According to Coauthor Cyrus Cooper, professor of rheumatology and director of the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at Southampton,
“These results recommend that having access of mothers and kids to more healthy food environments might enhance childhood bone development through its impact on the quality of the maternal diet and dietary options while in childhood.”
He describes if the results are verified with more comprehensive research, then they would recommend that enhancing the food atmosphere could benefit kids’s bone development.
Initiatives to enhance the food atmosphere have already started in some areas of the UK, where local planning rules do not permit fast food outlets within 400 meters of schools.
As stated in a 2014 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, getting substantial bone mass in early life is considered to be the “very essential modifiable determinant of long term skeletal health.”