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Teach young people about osteoporosis, says Duchess of Cornwall

The Duchess of Cornwall would like to see more young people being educated about osteoporosis and how to prevent it.

In an upcoming interview by Gloria Hunniford for the BBC to mark World Osteoporosis Day, Camilla spoke about her experience of watching her mother suffer with the condition.

She said: “My mother, I think, went to see everybody you could possibly think of and they all said the same thing - ‘Sorry, you’re old’.

“We just watched her shrinking before our eyes.”

The duchess, who is president of the Royal Osteoporosis Society, recalled a time when a hug from a friend caused her mother’s rib to break.

“It was terrible, because we didn’t know anything about it, so at some point we thought ‘well, is she making a great fuss about all this?’ said Camilla.

“Occasionally when she moved or you touched her she literally screamed.

“I remember when a friend of hers came in one day just to give her a hug, her rib broke. It was as bad as that.”

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to weaken and become fragile and easily broken. It develops slowly over several years, and common injuries in people with osteoporosis are broken wrist, broken hip or broken spinal bones.

Camilla said young people should be taught that the condition can be prevented but not cured.

“You have to prevent it by taking a look at yourself and saying ‘look I don’t want to have this disease’, so you must take a lot of exercise, walking in particular is the best thing,” she said.

“I think we all think we’re immortal, don’t we, when we’re young… I think I’d like to see more young people being educated.

“I’d love to see more young people understanding about it, not just thinking, you know, ‘poor old bats, we’re going to get old and that’s what’s going to happen to us’,” Camilla told Hunniford.

“But actually understanding what actually happens and how they can prevent it.”

Asked if she was worried about the young people in her family and getting the message across, Camilla replied: “I think my daughter’s generation does listen, it’s just getting through to grandchildren.

“But, you know, they’re starting to be teenagers. I would show them pictures of my mother, before and after she got osteoporosis.

“I would make them look at these photographs and say ‘look, if you don’t take care that’s what will happen to you’.”

The interview comes after the Royal Osteoporosis Society published a study into life with the condition on World Osteoporosis Day last week.

Craig Jones, chief executive of the organisation, said: “The support of our president, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, has been our greatest asset in raising awareness of the importance of preventing and treating osteoporosis, since she has seen its impact first-hand in her own family.

“Osteoporosis is one of the most urgent societal challenges to living well in later life.

“Our new report gives us the richest set of insights for many years into its effect on the lives of the 3.5 million people who live with the condition.

“Whatever our age, we can pay attention to our bone health, which can help prevent the distress, social isolation, broken connections and spiralling NHS costs caused by osteoporosis.

“The disease is treatable and beatable. If we take it on together, we can transform the experience of later life for millions of people.”

The full interview with Camilla will be broadcast on Morning Live on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Monday, 25 October at 9.15am.