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High soft drink consumption makes bones fragile: experts

Orthopaedic experts claim that regular consumption of soft drinks, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, are making bones fragile. This can lead to a decrease in bone mineral density (BMD) in people in the age group of 40-50, which later translates into osteoporosis.

“Daily soft drink consumption is associated with a high risk of fractures in adults,” said Prof. Shah Waliullah from King George’s Medical University (KGMU), citing a study conducted over 17,000 people for seven years in China. The study found that high consumption of soft drinks is associated with fracture risk independently of socio-demographic factors and overall dietary patterns.

“A similar pattern is seen here. We are getting 35 out of 100 patients in OPD in the age bracket of 40-50 who have decreased BMD. This was not the case till a decade earlier when soft drink consumption was less in the adult population,” said Waliullah.

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Orthopaedic surgeon and former chief medical superintendent of railway hospital, Dr Sanjay Srivastava, explained that the impact of soft drinks on bone health is due to their sugar, sodium, and caffeine content, which leads to increased calcium loss and higher fracture risk.

“Additionally, phthalates, a chemical found in plastics, in soft drink bottle production may disrupt bone processes, leading to skeletal malformations and osteoporosis,” he added. Experts urged public health officials and clinicians to address this issue and promote the reduction of soft drink consumption for the well-being of people.

“We need to educate people about the dangers of soft drinks, especially for their bone health,” said Waliullah. Highlighting the importance of early detection, he said that Indian women should be more conscious because they get osteoporosis a decade earlier than in the West because the menopausal age here is 47 while it is 50 years in Western nations.

“Since the hormone oestrogen plays an important role in the creation of new bones when its secretion stops; BMD decreases and causes osteoporosis. Hence women above 45 years who have back pain should get themselves tested,” he added.

Prof. Shailendra Singh, faculty at the Orthopaedics Department KGMU, said, “People should also be encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet.”

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