Juvenile Bone Health Kids and Their Bones: A Guide for Parents

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My Daughter Is Constantly Dieting. Should I Be Concerned?

Maintaining proper weight is important to overall health, but so is good nutrition. If your daughter is avoiding all milk and dairy products and severely restricting her food intake, she is probably not getting enough calcium. She needs a more balanced diet that includes low-fat milk products and other calcium-rich foods. Calcium supplements may also be helpful to ensure that she gets enough of this essential nutrient.

You should discuss your concerns with your daughter's doctor. If your daughter is one of up to 3 percent of American girls and young women with eating disorders, the problem is even more serious. Eating disorders, especially anorexia nervosa, can lead to missed or irregular menstrual periods or the complete absence of periods, known as amenorrhea. These are signs of low estrogen, a hormone that is essential for developing bone density and reaching peak bone mass. Girls with anorexia nervosa will often have fractures as a first sign of the disease. Furthermore, reduction in estrogen production in adolescence can increase your daughter's risk of osteoporosis and fracture later in life. In severe cases, girls with eating disorders may even develop osteoporosis in their twenties, and they may find the damage to their bones cannot be reversed later in life.

Look for the following signs and see your daughter's physician if you think your daughter has, or is at risk of developing, an eating disorder:

  • missed menstrual periods after having had them regularly for at least several months


  • extreme and/or unhealthy-looking thinness


  • extreme or rapid weight loss


  • frequent dieting practices such as


    • eating very little


    • not eating in front of others


    • trips to the bathroom following meals


    • preoccupation with thinness


    • focus on low-calorie and diet foods


  • overtraining or excessive exercise.

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