Fast food exposure may lower bone mass in infants _ news _ university herald

(Photo : Flickr. com) New research suggests that large US-based restaurants that voluntarily list calorie counts on their menus sell items that average nearly 140 fewer calories those that do not post the information.

Neighborhood exposure to fast food restaurants may increase ones risk of poor bone development in early childhood, according to a recent study.

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Researchers from the University

of Southampton in the United Kingdom found that greater access to fast food outlets was associated with lower bone mineral density and none mineral content in newborns. Associations between fast food outlet exposure and bone measures at four or six years of age were not significant. In contrast, they found increasing neighborhood exposure to healthy specialty stores, such as greengrocers, was associated with higher bone mineral density at four and six years of age.

A healthy diet with adequate intake of protein, calcium, vitamin D, fruits and vegetables is known to have a positive influence on bone health during early childhood, and indeed throughout life.

“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,” Cyrus Cooper, co-author of the study, said in a statement.

For the study, researchers looked at the bone mineral density and bone mineral content of more than 1,100 children at birth and at four and/or six years of age and compared the data to the number of supermarkets, healthy specialty stores and fast food outlets within a child’s neighborhood.

The results of the study provide some evidence to support the introduction of zoning policies to increase the number of healthier food retailers and to decrease the number of fast food outlets within neighborhoods.

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