Eating Well

Fast Food May Slow Boomers In Later Years: Bones Pay The Price

The Chicken McNuggets, it seems, are coming home to roost. Researchers at the University of Michigan are convinced that boomers, the first generation with a nearly lifelong opportunity to feast on fast food, are going to pay a price as decades of high-fat, high-sugar diets weaken their bones. “Boomers themselves—the oldest now 66—have reached the stage in life when they’re most susceptible to bone and joint disorders,” says Ron Zernicke, dean of U-M’s School of Kinesiology and a professor of orthopedic surgery and biomedical engineering. The researchers warn that diets high in saturated fats and sugar block calcium absorption, and so the calcium needed for healthy bones washes through the body in our urine. Second, saturated fats tend to form insoluble ‘soaps,’ which coat the intestines and can block necessary calcium from bones. Again, calcium passes through the body unused. Wait, it gets worse: Excessive junk food layers fat onto a weakened skeleton that struggles to support the extra weight, then osteoporosis robs bones of tissue and leaves thousands of tiny pores in the bones. Porous bones can break with little stress. You get the picture, but what to do? Invent a time machine and relive our lives with healthier diets. Or, the researchers say, do some exercise. Read more from the University of Michigan.


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