BMJ 2002; 325 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7372.1122 (Published 09 November 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:1122

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A home garden project in rural South Africa has proved fruitful. In an experimental village, 126 home gardens were established to produce yellow and dark green vegetables. Serum retinol (vitamin A) levels rose significantly among people living there and vitamin A levels remained high in the village's young children at follow up. Maternal knowledge about vitamin A also improved considerably. Interestingly, retinol concentrations in the nearby control village fell significantly during the period of the study (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2002,76:1048-54).

A community based project designed to keep older women on their toes also reports significant success. Relative to controls, women aged 65-75 with known osteoporosis who took part in a specific twice-weekly exercise programme improved in both dynamic balance and strength. Both factors are critical determinants of risk for falls, particularly in elderly women (Canadian Medical Association Journal 2002;167: 997-1004)

Osteoporotic men, on the other hand, seem to fare less well. A postal survey of older people who had sustained hip fractures found that on discharge from hospital 4.5% of men had been given treatment for osteoporosis compared with 27% of women. At one to five year follow up, 27% of men were taking treatment, compared with 71% of women (Archives …

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