How too little exercise, sunshine and milk are hurting today's kids
Children today are breaking bones more than often than they did 40 years ago. Lots more. Girls have 56% more fractured arms, and the boys have 32% more. So, girls are playing more sports, you say, and boys take greater risks- such as skateboarding. But Dr. Heidi Kalkwarf of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital has determined that these kids have lower bone densities than kids who don't break bones.
With modern techniques, the medical community is learning what normal bone densities for kids should be. And most kids don't measure up.
Otherwise healthy children are not building as much strong bone as they should. The combination of calcium, Vitamin D, and exercise is required to build bone. And kids today are not getting enough of any of the three.
No one is sure yet what level of bone density in children could lead to great risk for osteoporosis later. But it is known that almost half of peak bone mass develops during the teen years. It is possible that a 10% deficit in bone mass as an adolescent could lead to a 50% greater risk of fractures after age 30. At about that age bone tissue naturally breaks down faster than it is rebuilt.
What do kids need?
Mom's advice to "Drink your milk" is still good. Young children need 800 mg daily, and between ages 9 and 18 kids need 1300 mg daily. Milk, cheese, yogurt, broccoli, and calcium fortified foods are good sources.
The body cannot process calcium without Vitamin D. Some milk and other foods are fortified with it, but the primary source is sunshine! Playing outside really is good for our children (and us too). The darker your skin, the longer exposure you require. Some children can process calcium on as little as 15 minutes of sunlight a week; this should be taken as an absolute minimum.
An hour a day of physical exercise should be the norm. Weight-bearing exercise builds strong bones. This can be anything from playing organized sports to jumping rope, or running around. Get those kids away from the video games for some part of the day.
A Canadian study has reported that postmenopausal women who exercised when they were teens still have 8% stronger bones than women who led quieter lives as adolescents.
Rickets on the Rise
The worst bone deficiency is known as Rickets. This disease was a scourge of the 19th century. Bones become so soft that the legs bow. Inner city children are especially at risk because they often do not have safe places outside to play. Children are now being diagnosed with this disease every month.
Surrounded by the resources to provide good health to our children, we may be sending them to old age with weaker bones than those of our grandparents.
read the AP News Article, by Lauran Neergaard
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