Childhood exercise prevents osteoporosis later


Weight-bearing exercise during childhood, combined with a high calcium intake, may prevent osteoporosis later in life.


Weight-bearing exercise during childhood, combined with a high calcium intake, may prevent osteoporosis later in life.

A new meta-analysis of 27 randomized and nonrandomized studies finds that training programs for prepubertal children that include weight-bearing activities can increase bone mineral content (BMC) and areal bone mineral density during growth, thus maximizing protection against osteoporosis in adulthood.

The researchers, from Germany, calculated that the weighted overall effect size for change in BMC among children and adolescents in exercise programs, compared with those not enrolled, was small but significant. However, much of the change could be explained by calcium intake and prepubertal maturational stage.

They concluded that a significant difference is only achieved during the prepubertal years and that once children hit puberty, the opportunity is largely lost. As a result, they say that health care practitioners should encourage weight-bearing activity, in combination with a high calcium intake, to their prepubescent patients and their caretakers in order to increase peak bone mass and help oppose osteoporosis as these children become adults.

The investigators noted that they could not assess the effects of vitamin D because it was only recorded in 5 of the trials.

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005–2008, 9% of US adults aged 50 years and older had osteoporosis, as defined by the World Health Organization, at either the femur neck or lumbar spine. About half had low bone mass at either site; just under half (48%) had normal bone mass at both sites.



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