Parents may need to take caution in sending their children to fast food chains. This is according to a new research which says that greater access to fast food outlets could lead to poor bone development in the first six years of life.
Researchers from the University of Southampton in the UK believed that identifying those factors that influence optimal childhood bone development could help resolve the increasing cases of bone ailments that happen later in life. Thus, the team conducted a study of 1107 children at the age of four or six and infants at birth to measure their bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC). The number of neighboring fast food outlets, healthy specialty stores, and supermarkets were also counted to which the bone structural data were compared.
Analysis showed that after doing some statistical adjustments, neighborhood exposure to fast food chains was associated with lower BMD and BMC in newborns. Such link, however, was not significant at ages four and six.
On the other note, a significant correlation was found between healthy specialty store exposure and BMD of children at four or six, whereas no direct correlation was found for fast food outlets and supermarkets to that bone measure at that given age group, the paper reports.
"These findings suggest that the 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," says the co-author, Professor Cyrus Cooper, Chair of the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) Committee of Scientific Advisors, as quoted in the press release of IOF.
Researchers pointed out that although results have indicated certain associations, a more extensive research is necessary in order to confirm such findings. If so, action to reduce access to fast food chains must be reinforced so it could lead to benefits for childhood development and long-term bone health.
The study appears in the journal Osteoporosis International.