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Winning combination to build bone density in children

BETHESDA, Md. — September 28, 2004 — Prepubescence is a critical time for building bone mass in children. Strong bones are important for obvious reasons in growth and development. It is widely accepted that calcium intake and physical activity are two ways one can positively impact bone density. But consuming the FDA recommended 800 milligrams of calcium per day, roughly the equivalent of three 8 oz. glasses of milk, or solely engaging in physical activity isn't enough to help kids in this age group retain the maximum amount of bone mass.

Researchers at the University of Wales and the University of Exeter, United Kingdom, suggest that the combination of high calcium intake and vigorous exercise is the key to optimal increases in bone density.

Few studies have examined the interactive effects of calcium intake and activity, especially ones that differentiate between the types of activity that most positively affect bone density. But the study "Interactive effects of habitual physical activity and calcium intake on bone density in boys and girls" does just that. The authors of the study are Ann V. Rowlands and Sarah M. Powell, of the University of Wales School of Sport, Health and Exercise, Roger G. Eston of the Children's Health and Exercise Research Centre, University of Exeter, and David K. Ingledew of the University of Wales School of Psychology. The results of their study appear in the October 2004 edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology.

Using food diaries and accelerometers, the researchers were able to track the behavior of 38 girls and 38 boys between the ages of 8 and 11. They observed that the synergistic effect of high levels of calcium intake and vigorous (as opposed to moderate or low-intensity) activity were the most effective in building and retaining bone mass. Their evidence indicates that children should engage in 25 to 40 minutes of vigorous activity and intake at least 700-800 milligrams of dieta
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Contact: Stacy Brooks
sbrooks@the-aps.org
301-634-7253
American Physiological Society
28-Sep-2004


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