Calcium is important for healthy bone growth in children. Poor bone growth and development
during childhood can lead to osteoporosis later in life. This study will evaluate a
nutrition education program designed to increase the amount of calcium children receive.
The study will determine whether the program will result in long-term dietary changes and
healthier bones in children.
Increased calcium intake is effective in increasing bone mineral density in children, but
the effect disappears when calcium supplements are discontinued. Increased dietary calcium
from daily food sources may have a greater impact on bone density than that achieved by
calcium supplements. However, studies have not yet demonstrated sustained achievement of
increased calcium from food sources. In addition, the effects of baseline calcium intake,
bone density, and puberty status may influence bone response to increased dietary calcium.
This study will develop, implement, and evaluate a Behavioral Modification-Nutrition
Education (BM-NE) Intervention Program designed to promote sustained increases in dietary
calcium. The study will quantify the impact of increased dietary calcium on bone density
during growth and development and will determine whether the presence of risk factors for
low bone density influences compliance with the program.
Participants will be recruited into two groups: a group of healthy children with no known
risk factors for low bone density (i.e., no known chronic disease or previous oral steroid
exposure), and a group of healthy children with potential risk factors for low bone density
(previous fracture from usual childhood activities, daily dietary calcium refusal, lactose
intolerance, family history of osteoporosis). Children with and without risk factors will
be randomly assigned to participate in an intensive BM-NE intervention group or a usual care
group that will receive counseling on bone health. The BM-NE Program will consist of five
group sessions for parents and children over 6 weeks. The program will use individualized
plans to increase children's calcium intake to 1500 mg per day.
Children will be followed for 3 years. Primary outcome measures will include daily calcium
intake and bone mineral density. Data on height, weight, sexual and skeletal maturation,
and physical activity will also be collected.
- Height or weight above the third percentile for age
- Normal weight (< 130% of desirable body weight)
- English speaking
- Significant health condition
- Medication known to affect growth (e.g., thyroxin, growth hormone, steroid
- Ritalin or Adderall medication
- Significant developmental or delay impairment (e.g., autism, cerebral palsy, mental