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Anne Rahilly
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Australians need to do more to maintain healthy bones for a lifetime, a University of Melbourne study has found.

The study Building healthy bones throughout life: a population-based prevention strategy throughout the life-cycle to prevent osteoporosis in Australia, is published today in the Medical Journal of Australia and outlines key areas of concern and suggested strategies for tackling osteoporosis.

Lead author Professor Peter Ebeling said bone health should be a national priority with a focus on care from childhood to older age.

“When we look at optimising bone health, we must look at the whole life cycle and extensive research gives us clear directions on what is required at different stages,” he said.

“The strategy focus is on simple interventions to ensure people have adequate levels of calcium intakes, levels of vitamin D and appropriate physical activity throughout their lives.” said Professor Ebeling who.is also a Councillor of The American Society of Bone and Mineral Research.

“Both general practitioners and their patients often overlook bone health and as a result, osteoporosis is often not diagnosed until fragility fractures occur. A lifelong approach to building and maintaining a healthy skeleton is paramount.”

Building healthy bones throughout life emphasises the need for adults to increase and maintain weight-bearing exercise, vitamin D and intake of calcium.

Up to one third of adults have low vitamin D and teenagers are most at risk of not meeting daily calcium requirements likely due to the decline in milk intake and its replacement with carbonated beverages. Pregnant women and darker skinned people need additional vitamin D.

It is estimated that up to 1.2 million Australians have osteoporosis and 6.3 million have low bone density.