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The Duchess receives the Kohn Award for raising awareness of osteoporosis

31st October 2007

The Duchess of Cornwall called today for the lifestyles of young people to be targeted in the fight against osteoporosis as she was presented with an award for her work to raise awareness of the brittle bone disease.

In a speech at The Royal Society, London, Her Royal Highness stressed that regular exercise and a healthy diet were of "mega importance" to the generation's future bone health.

She made the plea for young people to be educated about the disease as she was presented with the Kohn Award 2007 for her dedication to raising awareness of osteoporosis over last 10 years.

Her Royal Highness has been President of the National Osteoporosis Society since 2001, and was Patron between 1997 and 2001.

During that time she has visited many bone units and hospitals across the country, meeting patients, showing support for local fundraisers and opening new bone scanners.

Her Royal Highness spoke of how her own mother and grandmother died from the condition, which at the time she said was usually linked to old women with "so-called Dowager's humps".

The Duchess continued: "Huge strides have been made since then and I'm glad to say that we're making progress on all fronts.

"But, ladies and gentlemen, if we are to continue to make progress we must target not only the older generation but the young people and their lifestyles.

"It is vital that they learn that regular exercise and a healthy diet are of mega importance to their bone health in the future and it is our duty to educate them."

Her Royal Highness added that the National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) had played a crucial role in raising the profile of the brittle bone disease.

"But we must not rest," she said. "Osteoporosis is still not as widely understood as we would like. The disease too often goes undiagnosed and patients still find that their path to the right treatment can be a long and painful one."

The Duchess spoke of her mother Rosalind Shand and grandmother Sonia Cubitt and how they had suffered from the condition.

"As I am sure most of you here know, I became involved with osteoporosis after my mother and grandmother both died as a result of this devastating disease.

"Then just a decade ago osteoporosis was seldom discussed, rarely diagnosed and usually attributed to old women with so-called Dowager's humps."

She went on: "With (the NOS's) support and that of all you here we can continue to give this too-often silent disease a voice - a voice that can be heard not only in Britain, but worldwide.

"A voice that can deliver future generations from bearing the pain and ignominy of osteoporosis that my grandmother and many, many thousands of others suffered."

The Kohn Award was established by Dr Ralph Kohn and the NOS in 1999 to mark achievements and encourage excellence in the field of osteoporosis.

Click here to read the speech.