Consumption of Carbonated Drinks by Teenage Girls Associated With Bone Fractures

June 15, 2000

New York (MedscapeWire) Jun 15 - Consumption of colas and other carbonated beverages is associated with bone fractures in teenage girls, according to an article in the June issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Grace Wyshak, PhD, from Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, analyzed self-reported survey data from 460 ninth- and tenth-grade girls concerning physical activities, beverage consumption, and bone fractures to determine the possible association between carbonated beverage consumption and bone fractures among teenage girls. Nearly 80% of girls reported drinking carbonated beverages, 49.8% cola beverages only, 11.5% non-cola beverages only, and 15% both cola and noncola beverages. Approximately 20% of girls reported having had a fractured bone. The author found that the girls who drank carbonated beverages had about 3 times the risk of bone fracture than the girls who did not drink carbonated beverages. The girls who reported high levels of physical activity and drank cola beverages had nearly 5 times the risk of fracture as those who did not drink carbonated beverages.

According to background information in the article, teen consumption of soft drinks is on the rise while their consumption of milk has plummeted. While considering past research, Dr. Wyshak speculates that the phosphorus contained in soft drinks may change the physiology of the body including a deleterious effect on bone due to the change in the phosphorus-calcium ratio or possible bone resorption from high levels of phosphorous. "Our findings have implications both for the health of teenagers and for the health of women at later ages," the authors conclude. "In addition to research, health and social policies to promote better behavioral practices, including one's diet, among American women of all ages are needed."

Because adolescence is a crucial time for bone development, it is important that adolescents approach consumption of carbonated beverages with caution according to editorialist Neville H. Golden, MD, from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. According to Dr. Golden, the findings of the study by Wyshak, "are alarming and warrant further confirmation with well designed prospective studies" that quantify the amount and type of beverages consumed as well as dietary calcium intake.

The author notes that "what is clear is that today's teenagers are consuming diets that are high in phosphorous and low in calcium," both of which can impact negatively on attaining peak bone mass. "Osteoporosis should no longer be considered only a geriatric disease but rather a pediatric disease with geriatric consequences," writes Dr. Golden. "Pediatricians should be playing an active role in the National Bone Health Campaign and, if Wyshak's work can be confirmed, we should be including education about carbonated beverage consumption in our efforts."

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2000;154:542-543,610-613


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