At one time, milk and other calcium-rich foods were consumed by U.S. children in amounts that were more than adequate to ensure the growth of strong bones. Today, however, children and adolescents are far more likely to have nutritionally deficient diets loaded with Ã¢â‚¬Å“emptyÃ¢â‚¬Â calories and washed down with soft drinks instead of milk.
This trend has caused concern among medical experts that these eating habits will have a long-term negative effect on bone mass thereby increasing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis later in life.A report in the journal Pediatrics of the American Academy of Pediatrics has called attention to this problem since: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Maintaining adequate calcium intake during childhood and adolescence is necessary for the attainment of peak bone mass, which may be important in reducing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis later in life.”
Currently, only full-term babies are receiving the recommended amount of calcium in their first six months. Only about 10% of adolescent girls consume the recommended daily level of 1,300 mg of calcium.
Adolescents in general (12-19) consume far below the recommended level of calcium with excess consumption of low- or non-calcium fruit or soft drinks cited as a major cause.
The report points out that adequate calcium intake is important in early adolescence when peak bone growth occurs and up to 40% of total lifetime bone mass is accumulated.