A recent clinical study looked at the damaging effect of fizzy drinks on the bones of teenage girls.

Dr Claire McGartland and her team observed that among secondary school children "a high consumption of fizzy drinks by girls during adolescence may lead to reduced bone density and a higher risk of fractures in later life."

As fizzy drinks are so popular among children and young adults, there is a real concern our future generation may get early osteopenia (softening of bones) or osteoporosis.

While osteoporosis is more common in women nearing the menopause, men can also get it.

The main causes are poor diet, lack of exercise and low intake of calcium and vitamin D.

Prolonged use of steroids, reduced levels of oestrogen, thyroid disorders and other, rarer, metabolic causes can also cause osteoporosis.

Regular physical exercise and a good, well-balanced diet which provides enough calcium, vitamins and proteins are the key its prevention.

Ninety per cent of the bone mineral is accumulated by the age of 18 so if diet is poor during adolescence, children can be at risk of developing early osteoporosis and of being more prone to fractures.

While milk is an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D and protein, the researchers found teenagers were choosing carbonated drinks instead.

Poor nutrition due to dieting in adolescent girls may also be a factor in reduced bone density.

Boys were found to consume more milk and did more physical activities, which may be a factor in protection of their bones.

Measures to provide well-balanced food rich in calcium, vitamin D and class A proteins in school dinners would be a great means of reducing osteoporosis in future generations.

Regular physical training, games and sports seem to decline when children reach secondary school years.

Motivation and regular PE classes for all secondary school children would be a good idea.

Cycling in groups could be another excellent way of promoting physical exercise among young adolescents. Jogging or long country walks to discover the flora and fauna of the countryside might interest others.

Nuts, milk and meat are good sources of nutrition for bones. Vegetarians have to be extra careful and need to drink a pint of milk a day, and Asians, in particular, need to soak up some sunshine, being careful not to expose themselves to the strong midday sun.

There is a tendency for Asians to eat more milk-based, sweet dishes which can increase the risk of developing diabetes.

Traditional Ayurveda recommends drinking a teaspoon of powdered almonds, cashew nuts, pistachio and cardamom mixed into a glass of milk morning and evening.

Almonds contain important essential fatty acids and proteins.

Dr Milind Jani works as a conventional and holistic GP and Dr Asmita Jani as Ayurvedic Consultant from 3 Eaton Gardens, Hove. Call them on: 01273 777448 or email: milind.jani@ntlworld.com