The Price of Beauty Might Be Your Bones

Pop star Jessica Simpson is back on the air with another reality show titled “The Price of Beauty”. She told the ladies on “The View” (March 15, 2010) that she got a lot of heat about gaining a couple of pounds. An unflattering photo of her dubbed “Mom’s Jeans” went viral after her performance at a chili cook-off last year. In her new show, she tries to dispel that myth by traveling around the world looking at beauty in different cultures.

Today‚Äôs teens and young women are barraged with images of the “ideal beauty”. The media depicts perfection as underweight supermodels. Celebrities like Simpson are berated if they gain a few pounds, even though they may look great. Another celebrity, Spice Girl Victoria Beckham details in her autobiography the media coverage lead her to problems with eating disorder.

Body image is a fragile area for our youth. This type of criticism is why too many of our youth may end up dieting to an extreme. That may mean double trouble for bone health. About half of your adult bone mass is formed during teenage years. Too little nutrition during those essential growing years may have long-term implications. Once weight drops too low, menstrual periods stop. As a result, the important hormone support for growing bone is too low. Not enough nutrition or hormones leads to excessive bone loss. The bone loss is more than the average rapid loss seen in women transitioning to menopause.

What does this mean? Young women with anorexia for as little as one year may not achieve as high bone mass as possible. Starting with a lower than normal peak bone mass means there is less bone to lose before your risk of fracture is high. Bone loss starts when? In your early 30s, it does not wait until old age to begin! Normal menstrual periods, exercise and nutrition with adequate vitamin D and calcium are essential for growing bones. Osteoporosis is a really a childhood disease manifested later in life.

-Diane L. Schneider, MD

Image: courtesy of birdonarock /