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Tuesday, 8 May, 2001, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
'Bone risk' for young orthodox Jews
Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem
Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem
Strict dietary rules coupled with lower levels of outdoor exercise may be increasing brittle bone disease among young orthodox Jews, say researchers.

A small study measured the bone density of 30 Jewish boys in Brooklyn, New York.

It found that more than a quarter had bone density levels described as "very low" - one third had some history of bone fractures caused by accidents.

The high level of fractures suggest that the bone density may be having a negative impact on health.

Osteoporosis is usually found in older people, particularly women after the menopause.

There are three lifestyle factors which can have an effect on bone density.

One is the consumption of calcium, a key ingredient in the manufacture of new bone tissue to thicken and strengthen existing bones.

Lifestyle factors

Other factors are the level of physical activity, and the levels of vitamin D, a vitamin produced in response to exposure to sunlight.

The authors of the study, writing in the journal Pediatrics, hypothesise that the diet and lifestyle of orthodox jews may be influential.

They write: "The ultra-Orthodox Jewish lifestyle encourages scholarly activity in preference to physical activity.

"Additionally, modest dress codes and inner-city dwelling reduces sunlight exposure.

"Orthodox Jews do not consume milk products for six hours after meat ingestion, leading to potentially fewer opportunities to consume calcium."

Osteoporosis is generally thought to be on the increase in the young, mainly due to increasingly unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise.

In normal circumstances it will affect one in three women at some point in their lives, and one in 12 men.

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