Sticks and Stones May Break Kid’s Bones

by Matt Weik

Aren’t you curious other than the fact that technology today has caused our youth to become lazy, what other problems may arise from kids not actively playing like we did as kids? One new study has actually found another issue that makes perfect sense, but can often be often overlooked by the surmounting amount of evidence that shows technology and convenience is causing our youth to gain weight, leading to health issues and risks not only now, but down the road as they age.

A new study is looking at how sedentary kids are and tracking what that does to their bone mass as they age. Living a sedentary lifestyle at any age promotes osteoporosis and as you age, can result in bone breaks and fractures that can cause concern especially in the elderly—surgeries become riskier.

This particular study called upon 1,000 Australian children and had their parents report how much television their child watched per week at ages 5, 8, 10, 14, 17, and 20. While the study was conducted in Australia, the same testing and results would hold true for us over in the United States. The researchers collected their first set of data 15 years ago and have been compiling more data ever since.

From the data already collected over the past 15 years, researchers are seeing trends which caused them to create three different categories for the kids. They have a low-level which consisted of kids who watched under 14 hours of television per week that accounted for 20% of the test group. High-level watchers made up more than 40% and was defined as those kids who watched more than 14 hours of television per week. The last group which made up 35% of the group actually increased their time watching television each week from what was at first considered low to a high level over the span of the study (as they got older they watched more television). These same kids then had their bone mineral content checked via x-ray when they reached the age of 20.

As one would expect, those kids who were in the “high” category for watching television through the life of the study were found after the bone mineral content scan to have lower levels than those kids who watched less television and therefore were more active during the timeframe.

Researchers continue to recommend after looking at their data that kids (as well as adults) need to stay active. If kids and adults don’t participate in weight bearing activities, their bone density may suffer which could lead to breaks and fractures down the road. A brittle bone will surely be damaged should a force be put against it such as a fall or impact of some sort. Our actions today, will affect our quality of life down the road. We need to take the necessary steps to ensure we stay healthy for as long as we can. Staying active is one of the best ways to ensure that along with proper nutrition.

McVeigh, J. A., Zhu, K., Mountain, J., Pennell, C. E., Lye, S. J., Walsh, J. P. and Straker, L. M. (2016), Longitudinal Trajectories of Television Watching Across Childhood and Adolescence Predict Bone Mass at Age 20 Years in the Raine Study. J Bone Miner Res. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.2890