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Size zero girls risk wrecking skeletons

Teenage girls dieting to reach "size zero" may be putting their bones at risk, new research reveals.

Fat mass plays an important role in building bone, especially in girls, a long-term child development study found.

Experts have warned that the pressure to be thin could cause long-term harm to their skeletons.

A research team looked at more than 4,000 young people aged 15, using sophisticated scanning techniques that calculated the shape and density of their bones, as well as how much body fat they had.

Weight

Those with higher levels of fat tended to have larger and thicker bones. This connection was particularly marked in the girls.

In girls, an 11lb increase in fat mass was associated with an 8pc increase in the circumference of the tibia (lower leg bone).

Building strong bones in their youth is particularly important for women, as they are three times more likely to develop osteoporosis, and suffer up to three times more hip fractures than men.

hnews@herald.ie


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