Calcium Intake Among Adolescents in Utah

Principal Inverstigator: Deborah R. Gustafson, Utah State University

Project Summary:

Recent declines in consumption of dairy products in the United States has caused concern among health professionals regarding the future health of the nation. Osteoporosis is a major public health concern, and can be prevented by consuming adequate amounts of dairy foods during the first three decades of life. National survey data show that intake of dairy foods and calcium among adolescents is below recommended intakes. Only 50% of children ages 6-11 years and 26% of children ages 12-19 met the current RDA for calcium intake, which is 1300 mg calcium or 4 servings of dairy foods per day. The primary and best absorbed form of calcium in the American diet is present in dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.

The purpose of this project is to create a dietary survey that will accurately and reliably assess dairy food and calcium intake among Caucasian and Hispanic adolescents in Utah. To date, there has not been developed a valid or reliable dietary survey for the measurement of dairy food or calcium intake among adolescents in the U.S. The adolescent age span represents a critical time of bone growth and is an important time for the establishment of dietary and lifestyle patterns. Insights gained about these vulnerable populations and effective ways to motivate them to change dietary behavior could have wide ranging implications for public health. If future education campaigns can promote appropriate dietary behavior relative to consumption of dairy and calcium-rich food sources among adolescents, future benefits for the dairy industry may arise as the marketability of dairy foods will greatly increase. In addition, this project will yield a tremendous amount of information on two understudied populations - adolescents and Hispanics.

This project will consist of three phases. Phase I will involve the creation of a list of commonly consumed dairy and calcium-containing foods. Phase II will be dietary survey development. Phase III will be dietary survey testing.

Specifically, it is proposed that a unique dietary survey will be optimal for measuring adolescents' intakes, and that estimates of calcium and dairy food intake using the newly created survey will be more accurate.

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