The new "Crash Course on Calcium" education program, developed
by a coalition of government, private sector, and medical groups, is
designed to help prevent the next generation from suffering the
devastating consequences of osteoporosis by reaching teens with the
message of the importance of consuming calcium during the teen
"The majority of American teens are falling far short of daily calcium
requirements, and teen girls are putting themselves at particularly high
risk," said Secretary Shalala. "This fun, new campaign will help reach
teens with the message that getting enough calcium today can help give
them healthy bones for a lifetime."
"A Crash Course on Calcium" includes a video featuring Olympic
Gold Medalists Amy Van Dyken and Kristi Yamaguchi, designed to
educate teens about the importance of calcium and teach teens simple
ways to increase their calcium intake. The program also dispels
common myths that keep teens from consuming enough calcium. One
of these myths -- particularly prevalent among weight conscious teen
girls -- is that all dairy products are fattening.
Besides this new education program, the "milk mustache" campaign is
working to reach teenagers through print advertisements featuring
famous "milk mustachioed" teens, like Jonathan Taylor Thomas of
"Home Improvement" and Neve Campbell of "Party of Five." These
ads are running in national magazines read by teens, including
Seventeen, Sassy, YM, and Sports Illustrated. The campaign is also
reaching teens through radio public service announcements, book
covers, and an Internet site (http://www.whymilk.com).
"Every teen must make healthy, calcium-rich foods an essential part of
their diet," said Duane Alexander, M.D., director of the National
Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), a
program partner. "In particular, we must reach teen girls with this
In announcing the new program, Secretary Shalala noted that there is
a "window of opportunity" during adolescence to increase bone
density through calcium intake. Bones grow and incorporate calcium
most rapidly during the teen years, and establish approximately 90
percent of adult bone mass by age 17. By the age of 21 or soon after,
peak bone density is achieved, and a few years later, a steady loss of
calcium from bones begins.
However, six out of ten teen boys and eight out of ten teen girls don't
get enough calcium in their diets at a critical time when nearly half of all
bone is formed. Most teens are getting only about 800 mg of the
1,300 mg required each day, setting the stage for osteoporosis. As
Secretary Shalala noted, one-half of women will have an
osteoporosis-related fracture at age 50 or older, and doctors believe
that inadequate calcium consumption during the teen years is largely to
Recent NICHD research indicates that supplementing the diets of
teenage girls with an extra 350 mg of calcium per day produced a 14
percent increase in bone density.
"If this 14 percent increase in bone density could be maintained, its
impact would be striking -- for every five percent increase in bone
density, the risk of bone fracture declines by 40 percent," said Gilman
Grave, M.D., chief of the NICHDÕs Endocrinology, Nutrition, and
To meet the calcium requirements, the NICHD recommends low-fat
milk or dairy products as the preferred source of calcium because
they are the best sources of calcium already part of most American
diets. To reach this goal, teens need to drink the equivalent of at least
3 cups (8 oz. each) of low-fat milk per day. Along with calcium, milk
provides eight other nutrients, including vitamin D, potassium, and
magnesium -- all essential for building strong, healthy bones.
The "Crash Course on Calcium" educational program, developed by
the Milk Processor Education Program and the National Dairy
Council with technical assistance from HHSÕ National Institute of
Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the American
Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), will give teachers and
pediatricians the tools to help them educate teens about bone health,
calcium, and how to prevent osteoporosis.
These tools include: a video featuring Olympic Gold Medalists Amy
Van Dyken and Kristi Yamaguchi, filmmaker Spike Lee, and actor
Jonathan Lipnicki; a teachers guide; a poster; and a "Clueless About
Calcium" brochure that helps lay to rest common myths about milk.
All of these materials are free to schools nationwide. To receive a free
"A Crash Course on Calcium" kit, educators can log onto
http://www.vpw.com or call 1-800-WHY-MILK.
In addition to partnering with the private sector to develop "A Crash
Course on Calcium," the NICHD is embarking on a long-term
education campaign called "Milk Matters." This campaign will educate
young people about the importance of calcium for building strong
bones and a healthy body. A brochure, "Childhood and Adolescent
Nutrition, Why Milk Matters Now for Children and Teens," is
available on the Internet at http://www.nih.gov/nichd, or can be
obtained by writing to: NICHD, 31 Center Drive, Room 2A32,
Bethesda, MD 20892-2425. For more information, contact the
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at (301)
496-5133. Note: HHS Press Releases are available on the World
Wide Web at http://www.dhhs.gov.