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Sunday 19 November 2017

'Clean eating' a ticking timebomb that puts young at risk of fractures

Healthy eating advocates Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley have distanced themselves from the clean eating movement as the health drawbacks have become apparent
Healthy eating advocates Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley have distanced themselves from the clean eating movement as the health drawbacks have become apparent

Claire Murphy and Laura Donnelly

The 'clean eating' diet fad is a "ticking timebomb" that could leave young people with severely weak bones and cost the Irish taxpayer millions of euro to treat, the Osteoporosis Society has warned.

Social media is regularly flooded with photos of the diet trend when includes 'clean' foods that are cooked from scratch and eliminating refined sugar, gluten, grains or dairy.

New research by Osteoporosis Society has found that four in 10 people aged between 18 and 24 have tried diets which promote cutting out major food groups such as dairy.

The diets have become increasingly fashionable, and are associated with a number of celebrities, who have boasted how they have cut out gluten, dairy, grains and refined sugars.

Earlier this year bloggers Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley moved to distance themselves from "clean eating", saying their emphasis was on eating foods without additives, not on restriction.

But Michelle O'Brien, CEO of the Irish Osteoporosis Society said it is vital that young people have a healthy approach to including all food groups and urged parents and grandparents to talk to young people about the risks from their diet.

Read More: Ill-advised diet trend of cutting dairy is 'worrying'

"We would have an issue with fad diets because once a celebrity endorses it, everyone seems to jump on the bandwagon," she told the Irish Independent.

"Dairy is not just a source of calcium but also vitamin D and other vital nutrients. It is an essential part of our diet from birth throughout life. In Ireland we are lucky that we have a strong dairy industry. So unless someone has an allergy to dairy, you should always include dairy in your diet," she added.

Ms O'Brien, whose mother Professor Moira O'Brien is the founder of the Osteoporosis Society, said that a good diet is essential early in life because it is too late to reverse the damage caused by nutrient deficiencies by our late 20s.

"My mother, who is 84 this year and is still working as an osteoporosis consultant, would tell the Irish public not to listen to ridiculous diet ideas," she said.

"If you want to be healthy and lose weight, just eat a normal diet."

"Everyone thinks that it is a disease that affects older women - but 50pc of women and 25pc of men over the age of 50 have osteoporosis," she added.

"We have seen 5-year-olds, 8-year-olds and 10-year-olds with the disease.

"More women die from the secondary effects of fractures as a result of having osteoporosis than die from cancer of the ovaries, uterus or cervix."

Osteoporosis affects half of all Irish women and one in four Irish men over the age of 50. The disease currently costs the Irish taxpayer €500m in treatment costs and this could rise to €1bn by 2025.

Professor Susan Lanham-New, Clinical Advisor to the National Osteoporosis Society in the UK, says it is quite likely there could be a significant rise in the numbers of people suffering fractures and the complications associated with them in the future.

"Without urgent action being taken to encourage young adults to incorporate all food groups into their diets and avoid particular 'clean eating' regimes, we are facing a future where broken bones will become just the 'norm'," Prof Lanham-New said.

"We know that osteoporosis is a painful and debilitating condition and young adults have just one chance to build strong bones and reduce their risk of developing severe problems in later life."

Irish Independent

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