The UK study analysed measurement of bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC) at birth and 4 and/or 6 years by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). The food environment was measured by analyzing food outlets including health specialty stores and supermarkets.
Greater neighborhood access to healthy specialty stores is linked to higher bone mass in young children. Increasing neighborhood exposure to healthy speciality stores was associated with higher BMD at 4 and 6 years (β = 0.16(z-score): 95 % CI 0.00, 0.32 and β = 0.13(z-score): 95 % CI −0.01, 0.26 respectively). The relationship with BMC after adjustment for bone area and confounding variables was statistically significant at 4 years, but not at 6 years.
“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”, said Professor Cyrus Cooper, Chair of the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) Committee of Scientific Advisors, and study co-author. “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.”
A previous study suggests that neighborhood residents who have better access to supermarkets and limited access to convenience stores tend to have healthier diets and lower levels of obesity. National and local studies across the U.S. suggest that residents of low-income, minority, and rural neighborhoods are most often affected by poor access to supermarkets and healthful food. In contrast, the availability of fast-food restaurants and energy-dense foods has been found to be greater in lower-income and minority neighborhoods.
Vogel C, Parsons C, Godfrey K, Robinson S, Harvey N.C, Inskip H, Cooper C, Baird J, (2015). Greater access to fast-food outlets is associated with poorer bone health in young children. Osteoporos Int. DOI 10.1007/s00198-015-3340-6
Larson NI, Story MT, Nelson MC. Neighborhood environments: disparities in access to healthy foods in the U.S. Am J Prev Med. 2009 Jan;36(1):74-81. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.09.025. Epub 2008 Nov 1.