'Fad' dieters risk brittle bone disease, say experts

FAD diets and a taste for convenience foods could be making Scots' bones more fragile, campaigners warned yesterday.

A balanced diet including calcium, vitamin D and other minerals is vital for healthy bones, which are less at risk of fracture.

But the National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) warned that many Scots could be putting their bones at risk due to food fads and because they are eating more processed foods than before.

The charity said regimes such as the low-carbohydrate Atkins diet and the cabbage soup diet could mean people are not getting a nutritional balance.

A poll of Scots found that 14 per cent said they ate less dairy food now than 20 years ago. Despite this, less than a quarter knew other foods from which they could get calcium, which include bread and oranges.

A third of the 250 people questioned also said they now ate more convenience foods, such as ready meals, than they did two decades ago.

The NOS said the survey was "worrying reading".

Almost half of women and one in five men over 50 will break a bone as a result of osteoporosis. Every three minutes in the UK someone suffers a fracture as a result of the disease.

Jackie Parrington, spokeswoman for the NOS , said: "Calcium, vitamin D and other important minerals to build and strengthen our skeleton can be obtained from many different foods, like cereal, bread and fruit. This is another reason why it's important to eat a balanced diet."

Ms Parrington said the survey also found that one in five people in Scotland did not consider their nutritional needs when making a meal. "This is very concerning as it may mean our bodies are not getting enough of the vitamins and minerals they need."

But the research did show that 56 per cent of people believed they had a better, more health-conscious diet than they did 20 years ago.

Ms Parrington said: "While it is great to see the majority of us are concerned about eating healthily, it is clear that the message is not getting through to everyone.

"Osteoporosis can lead to painful and debilitating fractures and we know that one way of improving bone health is through making sure you have a balanced diet."

Across the UK there are concerns that people are not getting enough calcium in their diet.

Many people, especially young women, worry about the high fat content of dairy products, and exclude them.

According to the national diet and nutrition survey, 34 per cent of women between 19 and 24 in the UK do not drink milk, compared with 51 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds and 57 per cent of 35- to 49-year-olds.

Dr Joanne Lunn, a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, said: "Calcium is most easily absorbed from milk and other dairy products, although it is also present in dark- green leafy vegetables, just not so readily available.

"Many popular diet trends exclude dairy products from the diet. This increases the risk that the amount of calcium obtained from the diet will not be enough to reach a high enough bone mass to protect from osteoporosis later in life."

Back to the top of the page