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High intake of dairy foods may help prevent hip fractures

16 November, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: Increasing consumption of dairy foods may help reduce risk of osteoporotic fractures in the population aged over 5 and reduce healthcare costs, a new study has suggested.

The study was based on a new analytical model that links nutrition and fracture risk, and health economics. It was based on data from the Netherlands, France and Sweden, countries which have varying levels of dairy product intake in the population.

Calcium is contained in different types of foods (including in certain fish and greens), however around 60 to 70 percent of daily calcium intake in Western Countries is derived from dairy products.

In addition to calcium, dairy products also provide a large variety of essential nutrients such as minerals, vitamins and proteins that, along with vitamin D, are also beneficial to bone health.

Low dietary intake of calcium has been associated with decreased bone density and increased risk of osteoporosis, a disease where bone becomes less dense and prone to fracture.

The researchers calculated the number of disability-adjusted life years (DALYS) lost due to hip fractures associated with low nutritional calcium intake and the number of hip fractures that could potentially be prevented each year with intake of additional dairy products.

The benefits were highest in France with 2023 prevented hip fractures, followed by Sweden (455) and the Netherlands (132). This represents a substantial health cost savings of approximately 129 million, 34 million and 6 million Euros in these countries, respectively.

"Our study likely underestimates the potential cost savings of increased dietary calcium in that it relies on existing figures for the senior population and does not take into account the long-term benefits to the younger generation," said study co-author Professor Rene Rizzoli, Professor of Medicine and Head of the Division of Bone Disease at the University Hospitals of Geneva.

"Adequate nutritional intake and regular exercise during childhood and adolescence, both necessary for the development of peak bone mass, may contribute to bone strength and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures later in life," he added.

The finding has been published online in the scientific journal ‘Osteoporosis International'.

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