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World-first guide to tackle osteoporosis

New prevention guidelines launched in Sydney to target children.

Encouraging children to exercise and eat enough calcium will be at the heart of new guidelines designed to curb Australia's growing osteoporosis problem.

Health experts met in Sydney last week to finalise a series of wide-ranging recommendations on how to build strong bones to prevent the debilitating bone condition.

The guidelines, the first of their kind in the world, will include recommendations on how much calcium, vitamin D and weight bearing exercise is needed to keep bones strong and prevent fractures.

An estimated one million Australians have osteoporosis while another 5.4 million have low bone density, or osteopenia.

Experts fear those the numbers will surge in the next decade.

Osteoporosis Australia Medical Director Professor Peter Ebeling said the guidelines will target all age groups and are particularly important for children.

"Many children are calcium deficient because they are tending to focus on carbonated drinks and not drinking enough milk," he said.

"They are also less active and not doing as much weight-bearing exercises as they used to like jumping and stepping exercises or medium impact exercise like jogging.

"All those things are good for your bones because walking isn't quite enough. Even dancing is good.

"It doesn't have to be done for very long, just 15 minutes four times a week.

"Childhood is a crucial time, that's when the bone bank is laid down ... so we need to do something about it."

More than 100 experts including bone specialists, GPs, nutritionists and exercise specialists from Australia and around the world attended last week’s summit.

The official guidelines will be distributed through GPs and other health professionals.


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