Part 1: Increasing Trends of Osteoporosis and Osteopenia in Young Adults

Posted on 4/11/2013 by Dr. Adrian den Boer
Categories: kid's health, lifestyle, osteoporosis, soda

As a proud father of five children, three of whom are already adults, I’ve simply observed their friends come to my house bringing their own sodas.
To my horror, I’ve witnessed them drinking can after can, finding that drinking 4 – 5 Mountain Dews each day was nothing to them!
This increasing trend of soda consumption has risen drastically, with a 60% jump from 1989 – 2008 in children 6 – 11 years of age (Institute of Medicine, 2012). As a staple for most children, the effects of soda on health, especially bone health, is tremendous.
With the average 20-ounce soda containing 15 – 18 teaspoons of sugar, not only does it present loads of sugar and a 36% greater risk of metabolic syndrome; the high amount of soda delivers significant acid, disrupting the body’s natural, slightly basic pH (Nettleton, et. al., 2009).
Because severe acidity from soda leaches out calcium from bones, especially in children,  I started predicting our country would be facing mechanisms of childhood and young adult bone loss decades ago.
Sadly, I’ve seen similar trends of young adults coming into my practice with bone loss. Osteopenia, where bone mineral density is lower than normal and a precursor to osteoporosis, is not uncommon in 25-year-olds anymore.
Simultaneously, I also have seen tremendously stressed endocrine systems. The endocrine system is instrumental in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, metabolism, and sexual function and reproductive processes.  Things like pituitary tumors that are benign, swollen thyroids, inappropriately functioning adrenals, and rapidly declining fertility are all becoming much more common, and all are related to lifestyle. Especially disturbing is the lifestyle damage being done at an early age, which means that interventional lifestyle change will have to be done for life thereafter in order to create some sort of normalcy.
Soda consumption is one contributing component, along with emotional stress, nutrient-poor food, inactivity, and environmental toxins. These impact the stress response, which then contributes to a stressed endocrine system.
How do we address these endocrine imbalances affecting bone health, amongst other things?
Stay tuned for Part 2, where I will discuss steps to reverse bone loss and enhance bone strength, as well as ways to decrease endocrine stress.
Institute of Medicine. Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2012.
Nettleton JA, Lutsey PL, Wang Y, Lima JA, Michos ED, Jacobs DR Jr. Diet soda intake and risk of incident metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Diabetes Care. 2009;32(4):688–694. 
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