SE Asian women concerned about bone health but shun beneficial diet

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

SE Asian women concerned about bone health but shun beneficial diet
Southeast Asian women are more worried about the effects of poor bone health than an expanding waistline, according to a new report on opinions towards ageing.

Commissioned by Fonterra, the independent research showed that on average nine out of 10 women in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam are worried that they will suffer aching joints and bones when they age. 

This compares to an average of seven out of 10 women who are concerned about gaining weight.

Wrong diet

However, despite the increasing concerns about deteriorating bone health, findings show that women in Asia do not engage in the right dietary and lifestyle behaviours to offset those potential bone health problems. 

A diet rich in calcium and protein, adequate levels of vitamin D, and regular weight bearing exercises are essential to the maintenance of strong bone health, but the results from the study showed that around two-fifths of Southeast Asian women do not consume calcium-rich foods, such as leafy green vegetables, oily fish, fortified cereals, nuts and milk on a daily basis.

Moreover, only 56% of the women surveyed try to get the right nutrition to maintain bone health, and just over one-third exercise at least three times a week, as recommended by the IOF for strong bone health, and one in four exercise less than once a month.

Lack of awareness

The research also showed that awareness of bone health is low for women across all countries, causing their lifestyles and nutrition habits to put them at an escalated risk of osteoporosis.

On average across the region, 67% of women do not know the minimum daily intake of calcium necessary for strong bone health. This issue is particularly prevalent in the Philippines, where 73% are unaware of the minimum recommended daily intake of calcium. 

In Singapore, one in four women is unaware of sources of vitamin D in food—another crucial component of bone health nutrition.

Fonterra nutritionist Joanne Todd said the results clearly show that more needs to be done to raise awareness on bone health in the region.

It is disconcerting to know that so many women in Asia are not doing enough to look after their bones and prevent the onset of debilitating bone-related diseases such as osteoporosis later in life​.

The International Osteoporosis Foundation indicated in recent studies that the incidence of hip fractures has already risen two to three-fold in most Asian countries over the past 30 years and it is expected that by 2050, more than 50% of all osteoporotic hip fractures will occur in Asia​,” she said.

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