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This summer, Camp Calcium is where the boys are

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. For the first time, teenage boys were invited to attend Camp Calcium on the Purdue University campus this summer, and 47 young males accepted the invitation.

The camp gets its name because it is actually a research project studying osteoporosis, a bone disease that can be prevented by eating the proper amount of calcium during the teenage years.

Osteoporosis, which means porous bone, is a disease caused by the deterioration of bone tissue. This deterioration can lead to fractures, especially in the hip, spine and wrist.

An estimated 80 percent of those with osteoporosis are women, and the disease primarily affects older women.

However, Connie Weaver, distinguished professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue, says recent studies have found that millions of men also suffer from osteoporosis.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2 million men in the United States have the disease, and 3 million more are at risk. Each year, men suffer one-third of all the hip fractures in the nation, and one-third of these fractures ultimately are fatal.

Weaver says factors such as physical activity, diet and hormones can greatly affect the amount of bone growth in the teenage years. These factors are different for males and females.

"Males are more efficient at building bones, but they may require more calcium to build their larger skeletons," she says. "We don't know to what extent the changing hormones of adolescence play in this. That's one of the things we're working to find out."

For years the medical and scientific communities have assumed that the calcium dietary needs for boys are the same as those for girls, says Berdine Martin, research associate in Purdue's Department of Foods and Nutrition.

Currently, the recommended daily levels of calcium for boys is 800 milligrams up to age 8 and 1,300 milligrams for ages 918, but these recommendations are based on research on adole
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Contact: Steve Tally
tally@aes.purdue.edu
765-494-9809
Purdue University
19-Jul-2001


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