Junk food can harm skeletal development in young people, study finds


Eating junk food can interfere with the skeletal development of young children, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have found, based on a rodent study.

A new study led by Efrat Monsonego-Ornan and Janna Zaretsky, both from the department of biochemistry, food sciences and nutrition at the university’s faculty of agriculture, has shown that ultra-processed foods can lead to reduced quality. bones, which is particularly harmful to young children. in their years of development.

Published in the journal Bone Research, the study is the first to analyze the link between junk food and skeletal development.

Ultra-processed foods – foods whose natural state has been altered during several stages of processing and which often contain added sugar, fats, salt or artificial preservatives – have contributed to adverse health effects of consumers around the world, including an increase in obesity.

These foods are attractive for their accessibility and low prices. Children especially enjoy junk food, with 70% of their calorie intake on average coming from ultra-processed foods, according to the Hebrew University.

In addition, 50% of American children eat junk food every day. The study followed laboratory rodents whose skeletons were in “post-embryonic growth stages”. Those who were fed ultra-processed foods high in fats and sugars suffered adverse effects in terms of skeletal development, such as stunted growth.

Additionally, researchers found high levels of cartilage buildup in rodent growth plates, areas of new bone growth. RNA genetic profiles of cartilage cells exposed to junk food have demonstrated impaired bone development.

After adjusting the diet of the lab rats, the researchers found that the rodents still suffered from “moderate damage to their bone density,” but less cartilage buildup in the growth plates.

“Our conclusion was that even in reduced amounts, ultra-processed foods can have a definite negative impact on skeletal growth,” Monsonego-Ornan said.

“When Carlos Monteiro, one of the world’s foremost nutrition experts, said that there is no such thing as ultra-processed healthy food, he was clearly right. Even though we reduce fats, carbohydrates, nitrates and other known harmful substances, these foods still have their harmful attributes.

“Every part of the body is prone to this damage and certainly to the systems that remain in critical stages of development,” Monsonego-Ornan added.

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