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28-07-2011 | Bone health | Article

Food insecurity linked to reduced BMD in young boys


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MedWire News: Boys aged between 8 and 11 years from households with limited access to nutritionally adequate foods have significantly lower bone mineral content (BMC) than those from households with access to enough food for an active, healthy life, US researchers report.

Since low bone mass is significantly related to childhood fracture, and early pubertal high fracture rates, these findings suggest that boys exposed to 'food-insecurity' (ie, those with limited access to nutritionally adequate foods) are at increased risk for fracture, remark Carol Boushey (Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana) and colleagues.

The researchers explain that more than 23% of US children do not have ensured access to food and are therefore classed as food-insecure. Food insecurity in school-aged children has previously been associated with anemia, compromised psychosocial functioning, and poor developmental trajectories.

In the present study, Boushey and team investigated the relationship between food-insecurity and BMC among 5270 children aged 8-19 years - a critical period for maximum bone accrual.

They reviewed data on food security, classified using the US Children's Food Security Scale and the US Household Food Security Scale, food intake, and BMC that were collected as part of the US National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys from 2001 to 2004.

The results showed that boys aged 8-11 years from households with food insecurity had significantly lower BMC than those from households with food security (ie, those with access to enough food for an active, healthy life). More specifically, food-insecure boys had an estimated 59.1 g lower total body BMC, 13.9 g lower trunk BMC, 7.6 g lower pelvis BMC, 2.0 g lower lumbar spine BMC, and 4.0 g lower left arm BMC than their food-secure peers.

In addition, boys aged 8-11 years from households with food insecurity were 2.5 times more likely to receive fewer than the US Department of Agriculture Food Guide recommended servings of dairy foods, and 2.3 times more likely to consume less than the estimated average requirement for calcium intake than their food-secure peers.

Girls and boys in other age groups did not significantly differ in BMC or calcium-related dietary factors according to their food-security status.

Boushey and co-authors say that, although their findings are limited by the cross-sectional nature of the data, they suggest that food-insecure boys may be consuming few dairy foods leading to an unfulfilled calcium requirement and ultimately a low BMC.

"Successful and ongoing interventions are required to improve food security among children and improve bone health and nutrient intake among food-insecure children," they conclude in the Journal of Nutrition.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Laura Dean

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