Your Messages

If you could pass a message on to your younger self about keeping bones healthy what would you say?

It’s so important to build good bone strength in early adulthood. By the time we get into our thirties the opportunity may have passed. Share the message you would give to your younger self with the next generation – and help start conversations about bone health.

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A Message from our President, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall

When I look back to my younger self, I was blissfully unaware of the causes and debilitating effects of osteoporosis.  I was not alone in thinking that it only affected 'old' people.  Like most 'young' people lucky enough to be in good health, it didn't seem relevant to me as old age was a lifetime away.

Sadly, as I grew older, I learned a great deal more about osteoporosis at first hand, as I watched both my mother and grandmother suffer the pain and ignominy of this agonising disease.  It was my mother's early death, at the age of 72, as a result of osteoporosis, that made me want to find out more about it.  This path led me, in 1994, to the National Osteoporosis Society which I have been involved in, first as a Patron and then as its President, ever since.

So what message would I send to my younger self, now that I have learned so much more about it?  Eat a healthy diet with plenty of calcium and Vitamin D, and take plenty of exercise: both are crucial for strong and healthy bones.  We can only build bone strength up to the age of 30, so I would tell my younger self to make the most of that opportunity to build up credits in the bone bank!

That's the message, as President of the N.O.S., that I want to send my children, grandchildren and young people across the U.K. - remember that now is your chance to build up healthy bones which will keep you out of pain, and active in that far-off old age.

Photography by Chris Jackson/Getty Images©

"After I had an operation for a hysterectomy, I would have taken HRT. At that time there was questions about breast cancer so I opted out of taking it. I think it would have helped my bones. I don't know whether I made the correct decision."

Margaret MacDougall, Stirlingshire

"Don't assume that being slim is healthy. Find out as much as you can about a calcium rich diet and go out of your way to ensure you follow it. Get advice about the importance of exercise for bone health. Start now. I wish I had known."

Helen Simmonds, West Sussex

"Although it is cool to be with the crowd, smoking will damage your health in later life."

Margretta Holdway, North Somerset

"I wish I'd drunk my school milk every day. It may have prevented my osteoporosis."

Christine Sharp

"I would tell my younger self that you must make sure you get plenty of Calcium and Vitamin D in your diet and keep as active as possible. Osteoporosis isn't just something that happens when your older, It could happen to you in your 30's like it has to me. So please make sure when your growing up you make your bones the strongest they can be."

Beccy Issitt, Lincolnshire

"From a young age, eat more food rich in calcium. Have more weight-bearing exercise every day."

Mary Queenan, London

"To keep healthy bones eat well and always do exercises that will help your bones. And love yourself!!! So you can enjoy your life."

Ann Pruce, Hampshire

"Make sure you eat more healthily, making sure you get plenty of sunshine and exercise."

Anonymous

"Keep on dancing!"

Solveig Morris, London

"I was seven when World War II was declared and food etc was rationed for several years. Sadly the quality of milk was minimal. We did have vegetables as my father had an allotment. Very little was known about osteoporosis. Now we can keep up to date with all the latest news."

Audrey Taylor, Surrey

"In our younger days, we must eat healthy, drink lots of milk for calcium and sunshine if you are lucky enough to see a little in England. This I am sure will keep you healthier and give you stronger bones. Exercise and sports are good also for your future bone health."

Erica Peterman, Lancashire

"Bones are not sexy, nor are they simply for dogs to gnaw, or to give flavour to stock. You need to walk and without fear of falling. Act now, eat well and embrace the health and beauty of your bones."

Nicola Garden, Somerset

"If you do have back pain with no apparent cause do investigate, no matter what your age. Drink milk, eat vegetables and fruit, and take lots of exercise. From an early an age as possible."

Suzanne Hewitt, Wolverhampton

"Wish one had helped peers drink more milk and tried all the other sports at school - however clumsy!"

Robert, Hampshire

"There's much more to life than playing on your smart phone and computer games. Have fun, keep active and make sure to look after your body both inside and out."

Dawn Tearle, Isle of Wight

"I would say 'treat the sun with caution but not as an enemy!' - that is almost certainly how I got osteoporosis as I have not any family history of it: but I once did obsessively cover up and use cream whenever I went out in the sun."

Carole, Devon

"What we do to our bodies when young, catches up later in life. Did you drink the milk at school? No!! The calcium I missed. Dairy & calcium is so important to bones later on, especially after 40 (I wish I knew then what I know now). Listen to all the messages. Get away from TV and walk in the lovely countryside all around us. Be bone aware please and save lots of pain and fractures. Love Valerie x"

Valerie Evans, Cheshire

"For everyone of all ages but especially the young. Make exercise FUN, not a chore. If you don't like walking, try jogging if you don't like jogging, go dancing or play games. Try to find some physical activity that you really look forward to and the added bonus is that it will keep your bones strong and your body supple."

Anastasia, London

"Oh! If as my younger self we knew about bones and calcium. I would have got out of my mini and walked, but we were well fed. No Supermarkets, no fridges and freezers. My Mum bought fresh everyday and our veg came from the allotment. But I was pestered with styes. lack of vitamin C. We just kept well with none of the knowledge we have now. So my message is really to today's young ones. Run, Walk, and eat healthy."

Christina, Cumbria

"As a young married mum, don't give up sport like tennis because of the cost of joining a club. Keep it going somehow, to strengthen your bones with high impact activity."

Margaret, Nottinghamshire

"Take medication regularly. Keep walking and doing things. Healthy diet."

Anthea Masters, London

"Make sure you get plenty of exercise - doesn't have to be for long, but do some every day. Eat plenty of broccoli, drink plenty of milk. As vitamin D is important, if possible spend at least half hour in the sunshine. There are exercises one can do if housebound. If you have osteoporosis try to avoid lifting heavy items, or bending over. The best of luck with all your efforts."

Evelyn Miller, Hertforshire

"I would like to begin my saying look after your bones, as at 90 I am suffering with osteoporosis in the back and the pain is bad."

Daphne Ellis, Norfolk

"Having achieved five fractured spinal vertebrae and a tibial plateau fracture - I am now 100% aware of the reality of osteoporosis. I would say to you - eat a very healthy and bone feeding/protecting diet ALL YOUR LIFE. Take lots of weight-bearing exercise and avoid too much alcohol. Don't diet stupidly. You will be glad you took care."

Annie, West Sussex

"Keep exercising, get more sunshine exposure. Ask for a DEXA scan and bloods check when going through the menopause to catch the condition early."

Jacqueline Bracchi, Gwent

"Please make sure you drink plenty of milk."

Gloria Shakesheff, Monmouthshire

"As I was born in 1937 my diet was very limited. Today looking back I should have drunk more milk but didn't like it, otherwise I was luck enough not to have fizzy drinks or convenience meals. I had plenty of exercise - no cars etc. Didn't have sweets - or sweet foods. But my problem was due to ill health. Still I advise my children and grandchildren to eat healthily, plenty of fish, greens, cheese and milk. I trust that they will not have osteoporosis will all the information that is now available."

Nancy Smith, Lancashire

"In childhood, learn to garden with your relatives, play out in the sunshine with your friends, go walking the hills and lakes as you grow up with your teenage friends. Eat the lovely food you grow, spinach, salads etc. Drink milk, eat cheese, cream and yoghurt from cows and other animals. Look after your bones while you are young and the smile on your face will grow bigger just like your bones - all 206 of them."

Joan Owen, Manchester

"You have inherited osteoporosis from your mother, but there are ways to stay healthy. Take gentle exercises, daily walks and soak up vitamin D from the sun. Eat oily fish like salmon or take Omega 3 capsules. Include milk, cheese, yoghurts in your diet to boost your calcium levels. Don't forget your fruit and veg which contains lots of vitamins and minerals and a varied diet of foods good for your bone health."

Rosemary Shelley, Suffolk

"Don't drink black coffee because it looks so cool - it's not and neither is smoking - you'll regret it later on! You're young enough now to change things, before they become bad habits. It's all dancing to rock & roll and back-combing and white lipstick now, but at 81 years old you'll look back with such fondness to these times - but with a lot of regrets for the lack of knowledge about your lovely strong bones; so, drink your milk, eat your fruit and veg, stop the ciggies and look forward to a healthy old age."

Angela Smith, Somerset

"Don't eat so much sugar (and salt) and don't skip meals! Do lots of weight-bearing exercise, like walking."

Sue James, Oxfordshire

"Start and maintain regular, daily weight-bearing exercises - particularly walking - every day!"

Richard Charles, West Midlands

"From a very young age it is important to eat sensible food and drink plenty of milk. This will ensure bones develop properly. With regular exercise added into the mix the future then looks rosy and anything is achievable!"

Judith Climer, Caerphilly

"As a child I wasn't interested in food and would only eat eggs, chicken and drink milk. My mum was disturbed by my lack of interest in food and had me checked out. Our doctor was not worried as he felt I was doing OK on my 'likes'. Everything changed as I grew older and I now eat a full and varied diet including plenty of fruit and vegetables. I have never broken a bone which must relate to enough calcium going in during my early years."

Pamela Lumb, West Yorkshire

"Please drink more milk and develop your skills of biking and running."

Vini Varma, Surrey

"Walk whenever and wherever you can. That way your bones will stay strong and healthy without tablets. So easy, so enjoyable and so worthwhile. Keep your weight down too."

Joyce Joyner, Surrey

"Osteoporosis is a very worrying and painful illness, I would never want anyone to experience. So do please take advice on your best diet: our bones are to be nourished with only the best, ask surgery and qualified people if in any doubt, or books and computer subject. Don't leave it too late, bones can crumble everywhere in body parts. As a child during the war years (30s/40s) my mother couldn't obtain a nourishing diet. Your parents can try. Good luck in your future, be choosey!"

Jan Avery, Devon

"I hope you are keeping up your healthy diet plenty of fresh fruit and healthy outdoor exercise."

Elizabeth Flower, Norfolk

"I was lucky - I had a good doctor who had a machine and diagnosed the start of my osteopenia approx 20 years ago. Immediate DEXA scans followed & eating the right food etc I am still pretty fit at 82 - have it slightly in my spine. So I say find a good doctor if you can - & pester for your scans every 3 years. I did."

Barbara Henson, Kent

"I was born just before WWII. During the time of rationing, I was given plenty of vegetables because my dad grew them on his allotment. We were also given free milk in school. I didn't like milk, nor milk puddings in the school dinners; so apart from cocoa, made with milk and given at bedtime, I didn't get much calcium. By the time I was told I had osteoporosis, there was a greater choice of calcium-rich foods - many different cheeses and fruit yoghurts. My diagnosis came from an X-ray, after I had back pain. But later, after breaking my wrist, I had a DXA scan which revealed osteopenia rather than osteoporosis. Now I make sure I eat calcium-rich foods and take more milk. I've always done a lot of walking and hope to continue as long as I'm able."

Anne Hunt, Cheshire

"Drink the milk and eat the cheese. Exercise regularly. Don't smoke. Drink alcohol moderately. Take HRT at menopause. Ask GP for DEXA bone scans. Don't obsess about weight and don't use crash diets. Observe your family history as osteoporosis has a genetic link. Advise your children and their offspring re above."

Janet Brookes, Leicestershire

"Drink plenty of milk. Stand up straight - no slouching."

Lesley Roberts, Dorset

"My dearest grandchildren, To celebrate Osteoporosis Day, there are one or two things I want to say... Please keep your bones healthy and strong, listen to Grandma - it won't take long! Eat your greens, yoghurt and cheese. Bounce on your trampoline please, please, please! Keep on walking, stretching and dancing, all these three are bone-enhancing!"

Lesley Wale, Sussex

"Maintain a good diet of calcium and fresh fruit & vegetables. Take regular exercise. All this will keep you fit but to protect bones into later years I suggest you seriously consider emigrating to a warmer, southern European country where sun shines daily."

Eileen Bayley, South Glamorgan

"Keep taking the pills. Use plenty of iron which is in the greens such as cabbage, also plenty of fish three times a week for bones. Do plenty of exercise each day, even if it means going for a walk for a long or short one."

Eileen Robson, Lincolnshire

"Do not think because you do not have any apparent symptoms that you have not got osteoporosis! I am a good example of that comment. My mother had a very curved back, so my husband offered to pay for a scan for me. My GP said not to worry as my back is straight, the practice nurse said the same - but to carry on if it would put my mind at rest. The result of the scan was "severe osteoporosis" and just a knock could result in a fracture! At age 74, my spine and hips were like a 90 year old."

Joyce Billings, Leicestershire

"To my grandchildren - 4 girls, 2 boys. Drink milk every day. Have exercise every day. Don't take up smoking. Eating a well balanced diet and having a healthy weight is good for your bones. Best wishes, Grandma."

Joan Kearn, East Sussex

"To my younger friends and family. You only have one body. You must eat properly, take regular exercise, even a short walk at your best pace gives your body a workout. If something feels wrong in your body, get it checked out, neglecting symptoms is your worst enemy."

Doreen Jones, Merseyside

"Start taking any prescription remedies that your GP is prescribing to you as soon as you can. In my late 70s I fell and fractured the top of the femur in one leg. A surgeon operated on it and I was able to walk on it next day for a short while, much sooner than any of my companions on the ward - simply because they had not checked with their own doctor that their calcium levels were sufficient for them. We also need to discriminate against unhelpful foods in our daily diet, particularly those of a sugary nature."

Margaret Karn, East Sussex

"I would have loved to have been aware of osteoporosis. I always had a good diet from my mother and carried it on in my life, so a test to catch signs before it is too late. I have been very happy to have had support from all your nurses at the end of the phone. Just wish tests had been done at a young age."

Robina Montgomery, South Lanarkshire

"I would pay more attention to drinking milk and including other dairy products in my diet."

Valerie Goss, East Sussex

"Be kind to your bones in youth. Think calcium, walking and sensible eating. This will pay dividends in later life."

Margaret Tunwell, Somerset

"Life can become a struggle as one nears 97 but keep cheerful and have interests, or else no-one will want to visit you. Don't smoke, don't get overweight or overspend. Go for a walk everyday, preferably with a dog. Keep your mind active by doing puzzles. Eat plenty of fruit and veg, dairy foods and fish to keep your bones healthy. Stay in your own home as long as you are able and keep busy with cooking, shopping and housework while you can still walk."

Sylvia Barnes, Hampshire

"Would need to do more exercise when pain allows, good healthy diet needed such as more salads, fruit and veg, cut back on carbs and bedtime snacks. Spend more time in sunlight to increase vitamin D. Do not undertake heavy tasks, use sticks when out walking in case I would stumble or fall. Try and avoid steps and uneven surfaces."

Samuel Johnston, County Tyrone

"It's never too soon to begin to look after your bones. Put plenty of calcium away now for when you're older and need it. Enjoy the summer sunshine on your skin but avoid the midday sun and don't get sunburned and build strong bones with exercise. Start now and benefit later."

Margaret Cummings, West Yorkshire

"If only I'd realised earlier that exercising doesn't necessarily mean the high energy stuff, or going to the gym. Walking can be so pleasurable and rewarding, I love clocking up footsteps on my Fit bit. I feel better and have lost weight. Win, win."

Pat Williams, Derbyshire

"You are responsible for your healthy, growing body. Find out as much as you can from health professionals how best to protect yourself for your whole lifetime. We are told that diet alone is not enough to keep in shape. All forms of excercise, especially weight-bearing, adequate, regular sleep routine and most of all, a positive attitude to life, including, friends and family."

Rita Walters, UK

"In your late thirties, when your ulcerative colitis became really chronic and was treated with a heavy dose of steroids and you suffered 6 months of missed periods and your weight went down to 6st 8lbs, I wish you had thought to ask if the drugs etc could be at all harmful. 5 years later when bone pains were really bad, it was too late as osteoporosis was fairly advanced. Perhaps the spinal fractures and resultant problems might have been avoided if you had asked for a bone density scan for Christmas. The saddest bit of all was that no doctor, apart from your gastroenterologist, made any connection."

Muriel Goodall, Glasgow

"Did you even realise how significant it was when your beloved Grandma fell and broke her hip, and later your Mum did too? Not just because it shortened your Grandma's life: genetics play a part in bone health, so please try to understand how you can avoid repeating the family pattern. Diet and some sort of exercise are really important while you're young - especially the latter since you're a bit of a bookworm. Just postpone that last chapter till tomorrow and go out for a walk!"

Mary Stewart, Cambs

"Always take a balanced diet even if you don't fancy it. Have a treat once a week but always stick to a balanced diet. Try and do activity every day even when busy with young children. Walk rather than drive whenever possible."

Louise Hughes, Gloucestershire

"I would have cut out all the fad diets trying so hard to lose weight. Look after your body ... You only get one....enjoy everything.....in moderation."

Liz McDermott, Shropshire

"I wish I had known that eating just 5 prunes a day would improve and repair my bone health. I learned this from the TV programme How to Stay Young with Angela Rippon. I now eat prunes every day."

Linda Scannell, Kent

"Dear Younger Self! If and when you are diagnosed with an osteopenic spine, please take a look at your diet and make sure you have a well-balanced diet including protein and plenty of dairy products. Don't do as I did and maintain a very slim, elegant figure by I omitting all fats from my diet and eating salads daily. I was 5 '10" tall with a size 10/12 figure, of which I was very proud! But pride came at a price. My spine suffered 4 fractures, at the age of 67, when I simply moved a chair! But do also ask for dietary advice from your doctor (mine never offered any). I had regular bone density scans from the age of 48 which showed steady deterioration until it fractured. Do NOT neglect yourself! With love"

Honor McMillan, Kent

"Keep fit and healthy and keep doing all the team sports and outdoor stuff you grew up doing. Eat well and balance fresh foods - avoiding packaged! But more importantly question doctors when they prescribe things. Don't think 'it won't happen to me' !!! If they suggest courses of hormones or depo provera contraceptive injection read the literature and insist on a vitamin D injection. Had you done that you may not have been catalysed into severe osteoporosis and a diagnosis of 21 rib fractures and being pretty disabled at 35. Question the doctors. Don't just take everything at face value. You had weak bones despite a super healthy diet and lots of great exercise but sometimes external things push us over the edge and as women we owe it to ourselves to question what else we put in our bodies. You would have found this out from a simple vitamin D test! So if you ask your doctor for any kind of hormone treatments then get that simple test done first!"

Sally Philip, London

"I would like to say if I knew then what I know now I would have done something about it but it's too late for me now; I thought I was fit and healthy because I was a vegetarian but little did I know I wasn't getting enough calcium or protein to keep my bones strong and healthy. I wasn't eating a proper balanced or nutritious diet of vitamins even though I thought I was; it's so important when you're younger but you don't think about that. I'm in a wheelchair and have been for eight years. I've had countless spinal fractures that made me really ill. I cant walk anywhere I'm just too weak and in pain - if I could change that I would do, so people should listen and learn"

Margaret Samson, Yorkshire

"Being a ballet dancer and thin doesn’t mean avoid food, eat healthy, remember your bones still need calcium!"

Deb Dormer, Northamptonshire

"I implore all young women, including our two lovely daughters - do not take your body for granted. Learn to love and respect your body with nourishing food and exercise that suit your individual personality. Our bones are precious part of us!"

Angela Massucco, England

"When you were 50 and the GP said you had high cholesterol so cut right down on things like cheese and nuts because you must keep to a very low fat diet, you could have asked to see a dietitian. You would then have been given a diet with enough calcium and vitamin D to protect your bones. Also, get out and keep active when well enough to do it. Then your bones would keep strong and have a reserve to tide you over when you became struck down with illness. Activity also improves your sense of balance so you would be less likely to fall as you age."

Sylvia Henderson, Berkshire

"Be aware of the importance of sunlight on the skin. Living up North, Durham and Derbyshire, I always covered up arms and legs as I felt chilly. I would have taken vitamin D tablets if I'd known about them. Now I live in Devon and it's a lot milder so enjoy the sunshine without feeling cold."

Serena Helsby, Devon

"I would enjoy my young life with nature... grow my own food as much as possible, exercise outdoors, go for walks in the woods and beaches... Be conscious about food and nutrition."

Sheela Packeen, Sussex

"Keep moving."

Anonymous

"Don't try to diet in your teens, especially do not cut out dairy foods and nuts. When I was younger I wish I understood the dangers of anorexia."

Eunice Verner, Derbyshire

"I would advise a good diet and exercise and check ups at the doctors."

Anne Maddocks, Cambridgeshire

"If I could pass on a message to my younger self, I would emphasise "LISTEN TO YOUR BODY." If you have any reason to doubt your BONE HEALTH, get your bone density checked; this includes fractures and persistent backache. We take our bodies too much for granted."

Rita Corbidge, Hampshire

"Keep strong BONES. B - Breakfast/milk/toast. O - Oranges and all fruit and vegetables. N - Nuts and seeds. E - Eggs, chicken, meat, cheese, fish. S - Skipping, rounders, running, dancing, football. For now and the future. Say "NO" to osteoporosis."

Barbara Westercroft, Yorkshire

"Dear Heather, We both know you did all the right things to promote strong bones in your youth. You took plenty of outdoor exercise, our generation walked everywhere, drank our milk, ate well, there was no junk food, fizzy pop was a rare treat, so what went wrong? As I became older, the social culture was changing with clever marketing and wide availability of lovely inexpensive wines, we went out more and on foreign holidays where drinking wine with meals was usual, and a 'little glass of something' became the norm. I wish the dangers of even moderate drinking to bone health were recognised sooner. Be strong enough to refuse the second or third glass and have a few alcohol free evenings every week. The other important thing you need to be wary of is not to carry overly heavy loads. Weight-bearing is important but heavy gardening, overfull wheelbarrows and watering cans, boxes and crates of shopping can be too much as you get older. After my last spinal fracture I had to ask supermarket staff to lift my shopping bags into the car, not a good feeling! Take care of yourself and learn to say "no" rather than leaping in and injuring your back, as I did when litter picking and subsequently having to cancel a holiday."

Heather Cooke, Shropshire

"Walk at every opportunity. Get involved with sport participation. Dance in its many forms. Find out all you can about a healthy diet. Enjoy what you do, change your activities if you find them difficult or don't give you pleasure. Learn to relax and don't worry."

Pat Kissane, Somerset

"In future do not give your school milk away to your friends. If you drink it yourself you may not get osteoporosis. Continue to do all your sporting activities, such as tennis, netball, athletics etc. Spend time in the sunshine but not too much. Lots of love, Barbara xx"

Barbara Burstow, East Sussex

"Get outside in the sunshine to get as much vitamin D as possible. Keep active - walk, exercise (particularly weight-bearing) and participate in sport. Learn about calcium and ensure you eat calcium-rich foods as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Maintain good posture."

Patricia Akers, Oxfordshire

"I would eat more healthily and exercise more, cut out all the junk and rubbish food. Take part in more sports. Think about nutrition. Be more careful. Eat plenty of fish and vegetables, experiment more with food. Learn to swim better and go swimming more. Take up better hobbies. Look after your bone health."

Sharon Smith, Mid Glamorgan

"Keep active. Eat a varied diet (balanced). Avoid fad diets."

Norma Lewis, East Sussex

"Having chemotherapy in my early thirties, I would have asked more questions re my "old age" and the way things would be affected i.e. osteoporosis!! Breaking vertebrae is seriously no fun!"

Teresa Kirby, East Sussex

"Always be aware of your bones. They wear out and must have a healthy diet to keep them strong. Also do some form of exercise regularly. If you are diagnosed, join the society straight away. Remember your grandma and great grandma have it. So always keep that in mind."

Jean Wood, South Yorkshire

"Reminding myself that as I was growing up during the war years lots of things were rationed, food, clothes, sweets and petrol for essential users only, for those fortunate enough to own a car! Everybody walked to school and back, 6 miles in my case and later twice the distance to work in all weathers. Nanna and Grandad were resourceful. Nanna baked lovely wholemeal bread, apple pies and custards. Fresh eggs, cheese and milk. Apples and oranges came later and fresh veg from Mr Brown's allotment. Seven of us were well fed and healthy. Played badminton, ran with local harriers. Before brothers John and Tom were called up into Royal Marine Commandos, 1939-45 war, at weekends we would go walking in groups and some highlights would be scaling Ben Nevis and hill tops locally. So, I suppose without necessarily being aware, our weight-bearing exercise stood us in good stead. I did not develop osteoporosis until in my 80's. How lucky am I?"

Sandy Kassell, Cumbria

"Here are a few tips which might help you preserve your bone health. Plan A (theoretical): Choose your parents wisely. Be born a boy. Avoid the menopause. Plan B (practical): Think 'fish!' Drink your milk - shakes will be fine. Eat your greens - smoothies are OK. Go 'nuts' rather than bananas. Don't sit - stand. Don't stand - walk. Embrace the summer sunshine and enjoy outdoor sports rather than indoor games."

Jennifer Eaves, West Yorkshire

"You were not aware of osteoporosis in your teenage years or 20's. It was not talked about in the family. Looking back you did most things to keep osteoporosis at bay. You drank your 1/3rd pint of school milk. From the age of 5-18 years you walked to school, 4 times a day, near enough to come home for lunch. You were keen on sport, netball, lacrosse and in the athletics team. The Corona man did call, but I don't think you drank too many fizzy drinks. It came as a big surprise when I was diagnosed with thin bones."

Susan Ponsford, Hampshire

"Be aware of your body. It has to last for all your life. Respect all parts - brain, skin, bones, heart, liver. Enjoy yourself; do the things you have to do willingly, then have fun. Our world is full of beauty - enjoy it. Value your family and neighbours."

Edna Liptrot, Lancashire

"Never mind all those committee meetings which were good for your brain. Get out there and keep up all your physical activity which is wonderful for general well-being and your bones."

Fiona Humphreys, Lancashire

"Please try to stay fit by eating and drinking healthily. Meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans can all choose good things to help build strong bones. I didn't really enjoy sport except tennis, but I did love rambling in the countryside, benefiting from the exercise and taking in good air and uplifting surroundings."

Ruth Fialla, Cheshire

"How important exercise is and to start young. Vitamin and mineral intake and diet can affect bones."

Liz Jeffries, East Sussex

"As a teenager I wanted to be slimmer, so dieted. Although I didn't overdo it, I wasn't really aware of the importance of calcium in my diet. I may not have had enough. I would have advised myself to be much more aware about the risks of osteoporosis in later life."

Sylvia Lunn, Kent

"I would tell myself to keep active and exercise - as much as possible. Also to eat well - fresh fruit and veg - and eat food with calcium in. (Sadly when I was young we didn't know anything about osteoporosis)."

Iris Lucas, Hampshire

“Dear Liz, Things are so simple for you growing up now. It’s going to be much harder for the next generation with the pressure they will face from social media. You are lucky, you have a cook-from-scratch diet of home cooking that features all the food groups, which will serve you well in the years to come and ensure you build healthy bones. Fast-food and things out of packets have yet to appear on your kitchen shelves – aside from Angel Delight (which I suggest you don’t get a taste for!). I know you love to dance – this is great! It’s a weight-bearing exercise that’s the other essential component in building strong bones. Your walk to school and college is also good for your bones too – and why not try a bit of running? You don’t fancy the idea now I know, but if you try it, you may well find you do actually like it after all (instead of discovering it in your fifties). Regarding eating well and taking exercise, my message to your bones is please don’t put it off! Leaving it late increases your risk of developing osteoporosis in later life – by the time you’re in your late twenties it will be too late to store any more calcium and build bone density. You will care about this when you’re older. Getting a little bit of sunshine is also important! You’ll grow up to be part of the beauty world that shuns the sun, but don’t lose sight of the fact that just ten or twenty minutes a day during the spring and summer months will help your body to produce vitamin D, an essential for healthy bones. Remember to take a note of those favourite family recipes we have – they’ll come in handy for your future work. Cooking and eating together is such a good and social way for families to build healthy habits – and you’ll want to pass that love of healthy food and wellbeing on to your own children too. And it will be even more important for your children than it is for you, as they face the pressure to match what their idols on Instagram are eating. This thing called ‘social media’ will cause a lot of confusion over what is ‘healthy’ and the next generation will need to get their understanding of the best nutrition from the wise who deliver good information and not just a pretty image on the screen.”

Liz Earle

"PLEASE, either look up about diet, exercise etc. to keep your bones as healthy as possible and/or ask YOUR MUM, who's quickly becoming quite knowledgeable! You are already in an "at risk" category, so when you have the chance - research, then support a group. Thank you. Lots of love, Darling Daughter, Mum xx PS. Avoid broken bones if you can - broken hips are so common, and painful... Love you. x"

R Griffiths, Leicestershire

"...These are a few of the things that I wish I had known when I was young and so I am sharing them: Be careful with your diet - eat your vegetables; drink your milk too. No matter what you feel about exercise, do remember it really is good for you - and just ten minutes brisk walk will do you good..."

Liz Hayes, Wiltshire

"You really shouldn't have carried on smoking for as long as you did and should have gone easier on the alcohol but well done for taking up yoga seriously and staying with it and for being a happy pedestrian."

Carole James, Berkshire

"Eat calcium rich foods. Do a 10 minute walk every day. You need to protect your bones from a young age."

Joan Smith, Wiltshire

"I am sorry that I did not do more walking and specific exercise. Although I went dancing quite often and roller skating I could have done more. I wasn't aware of the nutritional values of various foods but nowadays there is a lot more information on a healthy diet and the value of exercise. I was not a regular smoker; only an occasional one but I would not recommend anyone to smoke. Also I did not drink alcohol excessively and now understand the harm it can do, therefore I would recommend anyone in their teens and twenties to drink in moderation and do not smoke at all as it can easily become an addictive pastime. The young don't take information from adults easily but we do talk a lot of sense, if only you knew it. Don't leave taking good advice too late - it's in your interest."

Barbara Lane, Lancashire

"Dear My Younger Self... (...and my younger self's parents): You shied away from the competitive sport offered at school, being poorly coordinated and not very strong. You gave up entirely too easily when running races. Hiking, which you now love, wasn't encouraged and walking on the narrow roads too dangerous. You wish now, witnessing how your daughter and her husband have encouraged their son, whose build and preferences are similar to yours, that there had been indoor climbing walls and similar activities where you challenge yourself in a safe environment. You also needed to know how important a strong skeleton is. (Perhaps that's a wish too far - would I have heeded the advice?). It's possible, but so much harder, to adopt a better lifestyle later."

Lynne Adams, Warwickshire

"Do plenty of weight-bearing exercise. Get out in the sunshine but avoid midday sun - be sensible. Enjoy your food but be aware of calcium rich foods and include them regularly in your diet."

Sylvia Kent, West Yorkshire

"Dear Mary... Don't worry so much about being useless at sport and gym (ignore that sinking feeling before PE lessons!). There are plenty of forms of exercise which are enjoyable and fun, can lead to new friendships and help boost your future bone health. How I wish I'd discovered Tai Chi years ago. Enjoy being young, fit and healthy - so easy to take it for granted."

Mary Wyatt, West Sussex

"Dear Younger Self, I’ve spent most of my career studying bones - some in living people, a lot of them from archaeological sites. It’s very easy to think of bones as inert objects - but, inside your body, they’re living tissue - and they respond to the mechanical demands placed on them. There are living cells that make bone, and other cells that take bone away. If you put more load onto your bones, they respond by making more bone tissue. If you reduce loading, bone tissue is removed. You can make your bones stronger by eating a well-balanced diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D - but how much you use the skeleton, how much load you place on those bones - is also crucial. Every time you take weight-bearing exercise your skeleton responds by building bone. And we know that it’s the bone strength you build in your younger life that will help to protect your skeleton when you’re much, much older. Your bones need to be able to carry you into old age - and as people are living longer and longer we’re all asking more and more of them. If you don’t look after your bones when you are in your teens and twenties you put yourself at risk of developing osteoporosis in later life - and suffering fractures that will affect your quality of life and possibly stop you doing all the things you want to do. Walking is a great form of weight-bearing exercise - and there are so many wonderful places to walk and enjoy. So my message to my younger self, and to all the young people reading this, is to get out there - walk every day to build strong bones that will last a lifetime. Alice"

Alice Roberts

"If I told you you would break your leg doing a triathlon aged 36 you would probably keel over in hysterics! Believe it or not you will learn to really love sports for pleasure not just for weight control, which is great because it is so great for your bones. I know you recognise the risk you are at, given Gran's osteoporosis, but you definitely need to develop a better relationship with food as well. Who knows maybe you might not have ended up with the bone density of a 75 year old at 37! That body you hate so much just now will take you kayaking, hiking, running, climbing, diving and cycling all over the world! It is strong but it needs some TLC. You will learn to love yourself. Your value in this world is not measured by your dress size. You are so much more than that - you are smart, kind, fun, independent and adventurous. All the things your family and friends tell you - believe them. Food is not something to be controlled by, to avoid or make yourself sick over. You will worry and be so anxious that you will cause yourself so much mental misery and physical pain, denying your body vital nutrients when it is already struggling with eating disorders. Please be kind and gentle to your body - nourish it, treat it, fuel it, enjoy it but most of all please please accept it and love it. Don't strive for perfection - it doesn't actually exist! This unhealthy relationship with food will dominate and control your happiness for a long time, too long! Trust yourself, follow your big dreams instead of being stuck thinking about your weight and screw what other people think. You have survived and overcome a lot so far and you will continue to thrive no matter what life throws at you. You are stronger than you can ever imagine possible. Oh and eat your blimin' veggies and stop drinking so much Coca-cola"

Karen Dowers, Dundee

"It was when my dad had his first heart attack. I was 15, and suddenly my secure world seemed precarious. I became withdrawn, made less contact with friends, and slowly but surely became convinced that I had to control the food I ate - everything else seemed to be careening out of control. I discovered an iron will I never knew I had - what a shame I did not use it for a positive purpose. I went from 9 stone to 6. My periods stopped. I was anorexic for just over a year but the effects were huge. I went through an early menopause at 23, and have osteoporosis. Now I'm 51 and wish I had had someone who understood anorexia to talk with back then - my parents loved me and helped me every way they could, but there was no professional help to avail of (just horror stories about hospitalisation). I cured myself but carried the anorexic mindset with me for years. I wish I could tell my younger self the damage not eating can do. If telling my story will stop one other girl from falling down the dark hole of anorexia, I'll shout it from the highest rooftop. Life is too precious for the negative horror of anorexia."

Gillian Martin, County Down

"My message to my younger self would be to have confidence in myself and not allow others to dictate what you should do. If you want to go down a road that may be different to the one your peers are travelling, don’t be scared or intimidated into not taking that path. This may be something as simple as wanting to play football or cricket as a girl, or as important as not to smoke or take drugs just because everyone else is. I wanted to be an actor and it was quite hard when I was a teenager to stick to my guns and try and do something which was quite out of the ordinary then. I wanted to do it so much that I dredged up the confidence from somewhere, even though I was quite shy and a bit too eager to please. Unfortunately there were a few other areas in which I wasn’t so single-minded! I definitely wish I’d never taken up smoking - I had to force myself to start, even though I initially hated it, largely because all my friends smoked. It took years to break the habit."

Trudie Goodwin

"Don't ever forget, what you do now will affect your bones in the future."

Linda Ferraby, England

"If you are lactose intolerant and can't have dairy there are so many alternatives. Coconut milk almond milk rice milk to name a few. We need calcium and vitamin D to keep our bones strong and the alternative milks have both of those. Vegetables and fruit are vital too. Oh how I wish I had been told all this when I was younger and maybe I wouldn't now have osteoporosis and be afraid of what the future holds."

Gillian Haselden, Lancashire

"This campaign is coming at a very 'telling' time for me; I have always been weight conscious and, at the same time, keen to make healthy eating and exercise choices. However, if a choice had to be made I would, I am afraid, choose the former (down to vanity, I cannot shift the responsibility for my decisions elsewhere, e.g.: blaming the advertising world for promoting all those slender bodies, although this I am sure did not help !). I am now 70 and was diagnosed in June 2016 with osteoporosis in my spine and osteopenia in my hips. As it is a 'silent' disease (i.e.: most of us only find out when we break a bone) I was devastated - this could not happen to someone blessed with such good health all her life, etc, etc. It is definitely a case of 'if I knew then what I know now'. Please help the younger members of your family not to make the same mistake - take steps now with your nearest and dearest to help prevent this avoidable disease."

Christine Joss, Suffolk

"I wish I'd started going to a gym much earlier than 60. The sense of mental and physical well being is tremendous. My stamina has improved plus I can eat what I want and burn any unwanted calories off over the following week."

Catherine Coales, Cambridgeshire

"My message would be not to diet excessively as you will get osteoporosis and live in fear of breaking your hip and spine and being disabled and dependent on others for everyday needs. You will ruin your figure as muscle cannot be replaced and you may be at risk of heart attacks at a young age. If I had known about osteoporosis it would have scared me into being sensible about dieting. Have self confidence and believe in your self. Be independent and take responsibility for your life. Don't let others think they know better. They are only people themselves like you. You are as special, important and valued as they are. Don't look for approval from others. You don't need it. You only need approval from yourself. Don't always think others know best. Don't think your life depends on what other people think. If only I could go back 40 years."

Tarah Page, Middlesex

"Stop eating Ready Meals. I know its hard as a working mum. Try to cook your own nutritional meals. Osteoporosis is in our family."

Shirley Reader, West Yorkshire

"You understand nutrition for goodness sake so stop eating so much cheese, you'll hate that fat tummy when you're 45! Eat more oranges, rocket, hummus and baked beans and find an exercise you enjoy that increases bone density :D"

Rebecca Jones, Sussex

"You are going to live longer than the feelings that you have now. Your body, your food and your emotions are there to be enjoyed. If you had looked ahead to the years over 30 when your zest returned then you would have packed your young years with caring for yourself with food and friends just like you wish for those around you. In later life you can repair so much but not all. Look after yourself."

Katie Wadia, Surrey

"Do more exercise."

Judy Lustigman, Middlesex

"Think of the future. Yes, your hair and skin are what people see but it's no good to just look after what's on the outside, you need to be aware of and care for your skeleton as well. Don't wait until your 30s and 40s to start eating sensibly and taking exercise. Do it now while you're young. Make it a habit you will never, ever break. And then maybe you will never, ever get osteoporosis and you will never, ever fracture your vertebrae. (Which hurts a lot by the way!)"

Jenni Kelly, Essex

"Little did you know that when you had to drink that little bottle of lukewarm milk in the playground every day at Junior School that it was laying down the most amazing foundation for your bone health. When you played outside doing all kinds of physical activities, not only were you strengthening your muscles and bones you were also soaking up lots of Vitamin D from the sunshine which also helped your bone health. Life in 2017 is very different with social media tempting you inside and to be less active. So, please, drink plenty of milk and eat cheese and yogurt for your bone health. Be as active as you can and spend time outdoors whenever you can too."

Rosemary Conley CBE DL

"I was diagnosed with osteoporosis at 36. The Consultant asked if I had ever been vegan, vegetarian or anorexic. My mother died when I was 14 and my diet suffered as a result. I had dieted in my early 20's and restricted my dairy intake. And I'd never liked cheese as a child. So now I've got two replacement hips at 61 and joint degeneration and bone pain. I am sure that a balanced diet incorporating all food groups would have meant my bones were stronger. No excuses today not to eat well, even on a budget!"

Jane Palma, Great Britain

"At 17 I was too busy enjoying life to waste time and money on eating. I had a fantastic job at Harrods and I was hoping to travel the world as a fashion buyer. I started passing out on the tube so I left my job. Then my teeth started to break. I spent hours at the dentist and still do. I enjoyed being thin because I could wear beautiful clothes and for years I looked really good. I started eating again but the damage had been done. I am 75 now. The weight started to go back on at 50 then I found I had osteoporosis. The good news is I did travel the world, in a different job which was less demanding and paid better."

Gillian Johnston, Surrey

"I only wish that I had known how important it is to eat healthily to protect my skeleton in later life. My two daughters now understand how important it is to protect themselves for the future."

Fizz Thompson, Hampshire

"Dear Younger Self, I know that as you read this you are battling with anorexia nervosa. I know that it feels like it will never get better. I know that health professionals are telling you about osteoporosis; they are telling you that in the future you will regret your actions as your bones fracture and crumble; they are trying to scare you into 'curing yourself' from anorexia. You feel guilty that you cannot just 'be better'. You feel scared of what the future holds. You hate yourself for destroying your body, but the hatred pulls you deeper into the anorexia. You feel hopeless. But I write to you as your future self. A future self who still battles with anorexia, but has reached a healthy weight and enjoys running with a group of new and supportive friends. A future self who is eating a healthy balanced diet and exercising sensibly. A future self who is doing everything she can to strengthen her bones. This will be you - have hope. You need to know that I do not blame you. I do not look back at you and wish you had 'cured yourself' as you fear I will. I look back and see a person doing her best. You will get there. My one request to you is: accept help from professionals, family and friends, you do not have to do this on your own. With love, Your older self P.S. pick up that phone and ring the National Osteoporosis Society, I know you won't regret it! ;-)"

Ellen Devine, Gloucestershire

"Nobody ever thinks they will get old. Or if they do, they don't want to think about it. Not worrying about such things is one of the great joys of being young. But there are messages about things that can happen when we get older that we all really should learn and take heed of. I don't mean we should worry about it, but just take note of it. A bit like always putting on the burglar alarm rather than waiting until after we have been robbed. Taking care of our bones should be just like taking care of our skin. We don't want wrinkles but neither do we want fragile bones. So eating sensibly, exercising by doing something we enjoy and getting outside into the fresh air should just become one of the things we do."

Carol Hufton, Cheshire

"I know you would rather sit and read indoors but exercise more and learn to love the sun, but do it safely. Eat a balanced diet instead of being so picky."

Ann Waudby, Hampshire

"As a child I drank lots of sweet drinks and the worst thing of all, I drank Cola every day right into my twenties... I look back now and think of dropping a penny in a glass of cola, the penny comes out clean because all dirt has been eaten away and this is what it does to our bones, it eats them away. I might not be in such a state now with 13 collapsed vertebrae and very thin hip bones. I say sorry to myself for being so irresponsible."

Susan Kelk, West Yorkshire

"Dear Diana, It is only now, at 77 that I finally understand that my father had a reason for making me do the things I hated. Because he loved me and wanted me to be healthy and strong. Don’t make my mistakes. This is your chance to learn from what I did as a child – and act on it now. Embrace his advice – look after your body now, and it’ll look after you for the rest of your life. Looking back, I can now say that I should have listened and learned much more from my very strict Father than I did. All those long family walks he made me do, those trees he had me climb with my brothers, and the daily running across the fields to my West Country junior school in all winds and weather…. were for my own good. I should have appreciated there was a reason that he insisted on the warm bottle of school milk, that fresh orange juice, plus the daily, and compulsory, spoon of cod liver oil. They were to help build my healthy body, strong bones and muscles. I didn’t appreciate my Father’s insistence that I ate only fresh healthy foods including chicken and fish, plus seasonal fruits, vegetables and nuts from his own garden. And I was unaware that physical activity combined with good food would benefit my health and well being in my adult life. I know now and say….thank you Dad!"

Diana Moran

"I started school in the fifties when free milk for school children was available but unfortunately in the summer months, warm full cream milk tasted a bit rancid to me so I gave it a miss, now in my sixties having recovered from a very dangerous hip fracture two years ago I would recommend all young people to have a balanced diet and exercise to avoid osteoporosis in their golden years."

Susan Partridge, Hampshire

"I wish I cared more about nutrition than getting thin. Eating healthy and an active lifestyle is so much more important than being a size 8."

Mary Mattock, London

"I wish I hadn't starved myself when I was younger (14 - 17 yrs old). I have since discovered that up to 25 years of age is the essential building time for bones. It's too late now. I really look after myself now, but I'm still low in weight, as I have other health issues, which may also have been triggered by the anorexia. I have poor absorption, so even calcium intake is compromised. Anorexia is a disease of the mind, which manifests itself physically. I can't turn back time, but I would like to warn other young women to eat a healthy, balanced diet, take a little exercise and be happy with themselves. Also, DON'T compare yourself to others. Best wishes."

Louise Oram, East Sussex

"I wish I had been more interested in exercising and got out there to improve my bone health."

Kathryn Holmes, Yorkshire

"To all family and friends under 30, eat a healthy balanced diet your bones will thank you for it. Don't go on fad diets and don't forget to check if any medication you are prescribed could have an effect on your bone health."

Jacqueline Manning, Middlesex

"Dear younger self, I now know you need to think much more about your diet and bones so you don't get osteoporosis later in life. Eat more foods with calcium and vitamin D. Don't get drunk any more on a regular basis as alcohol isn't good for bones. Do more walking and enjoy your life more. Care about yourself. You'll be glad when you are in your 50s. love from Helen"

Helen Douglas, Cumbria

"How I wish someone had encouraged me to drink my school milk (even though it was either luke warm or icy cold) eat cheese and polish off my cabbage and greens! My poor calcium diet for many childhood years was a silent indicator of the disease that was brewing in my body. Sadly, have learnt today from my G.P. that I have osteoporosis in the neck of my femur. So my message to my younger self would be: Eat a varied diet that includes calcium rich foods, exercise and enjoy careful sunshine exposure"

Gillian Glover, Surrey

"Embrace who you are, by developing healthy eating habits and keeping moving you will have a long happy life. Consider limiting the amount you watch TV/ spend on social media. You can make good food choices by reading food labels and eating fresh food including plenty of fish and green leafy vegetables. Include dairy in your diet via milk and cheese. Always consider the planet, don't be wasteful. Consider every opportunity that comes your way and don't worry too much about what others say. Make your own decisions, be in charge of your own destiny."

Diane Ferraby, Bristol

"At 20 I had everything but no experience or confidence to use it effectively. I wish I could put the priceless youth and my life experience together. I certainly would have worried much less about what I looked like to others, it seems so silly now . I would tell myself how great I looked and to hold my head high. I have osteoporosis now in my 50s with three fractures in recent years. As an adult I tried to follow a low fat diet in keeping with the advice given to us all. I avoided much dairy and red meat in favour of heart health. I would tell myself not to stress so hard to be perfect in my job and as mother and never beat myself up over the inevitable failures. My digestion would have thanked me and my physical and mental health would have been better."

Candy Matterson, England

"The majority of us who live in this part of the world have a choice as to whether or not we eat well.... take advantage of that option by making sure you care for your young body and thereby take responsibility for your health as you age. Regrets are a waste of time and energy!"

Alison Dacomb, Surrey

"How I wish I had a time machine. I would go back to talk to my teenage self and let her see me as I am. She would definitely change her eating habits and she wouldn't have to suffer the things I do now. Hi Val, you are so proud of that 18 inch waist, wanting to be a Twiggy look alike but living on crisp breads and beef stock cubes is so bad for your bones. I know you want to stay slim but you need to eat a balanced diet with protein, fruit, vegetables and most importantly vitamins and minerals, especially calcium. Look at me now, my bones have become so brittle I'm afraid to do so many things that I loved to do. I have osteoporosis. I've had a broken wrist, a broken hand and a humerus so badly broken it needed a plate and nine screws to put me back together. No longer can I go skating or skiing, I often worry about going out on icy conditions in case I fall and break something that can't be repaired. You never expected to hear this from your future self so please take notice and eat a healthy diet. You will still be loved whatever size you are. Valerie, what you don't realise is that your bones are being starved of the calcium that is needed in your teenage years to give them strength in later life. Oh how I wish I could really say this to myself and all the young people who work so hard to be size zero. If they only knew what damage they are doing. Eat your greens, drink milk and eat a cube of cheese a day. Make strong bones and save yourself pain and anguish in later life from broken bones. Enjoy sitting up to the table with the family and eat with them, not only will the food do you good, the sharing of the day will build you emotionally so you will be strong and happy in yourself. If you look after your body now it will serve you well for a long life and you have GBBO to look forward to - but no spoilers!"

Val Stones, Somerset

"Eat well at a younger age. More calcium non-dairy foods like green leafy veg. Do not lose weight unnecessarily for a job or because someone says you are fat."

Anita Jacob

"Make sure you get enough calcium on a daily basis."

Suella Postles

"As a teenager, never mind the diets or the appearance, make sure to eat healthily."

Leo Hickey

"Dear Me! Don't give up weight bearing exercising, or any other activity you enjoy, or are good at, if you can possibly afford it - and can take time out, just for a couple of hours a week (I'm including travel and changing time here!) when the children are really little i.e. before they start proper school. With love and good intentions, Yourself!"

Beryl Cooke

"My message to my younger self would be to make sure I walked every day for no less than 40 minutes a day. I have always drunk a good amount of milk, but didn't realise that I needed weight bearing exercise on a regular basis to aid prevention of osteoporosis in the future. As there is a familial tendency to osteoporosis I would ask that my children do the same."

Donna Godfrey

"Your skeleton is alive and growing, not a dead coat hanger for your body's organs to hang from, so feed it with a varied diet from all food groups including milk and dairy, bread and cereals, fruit and vegetables, meat, poultry and fish to form a calcium rich diet. Fresh is best..so avoid takeaways, limit sugar and fried burgers and chips, and don't smoke or drink much alcohol. Regularly do weight bearing and body flexing exercises that you enjoy and get out into the fresh air with friends. Parallel to this, give yourself a good dose of resilience, open-mindedness, hope, compassion, faith ...and a good sense of humour...and you'll have a rich package for life."

Sue Meadows

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