Calcium Foods and Bone Health of Adolescent Girls

Project: Research project

Project Details


Osteoporosis is a major public health problem. Optimum development of the skeleton during youth is crucial
in prevention of osteoporosis, a condition in which fractures occur late in life because of reduced bone mass
and bone quality. If skeletal development can be maximized during growth, young people will begin
adulthood with optimal bone health and be less likely to develop osteoporosis in later years. Yet bone health
of youth has not been adequately addressed. In this application, we propose to extend our 4-year intervention
study of the effects of a high calcium diet on bone quality in pubertal girls. The aim of this experimental
study is to test the effect of increasing dietary calcium intake to 1500 mg/day on increases in bone quality in
adolescent females. The hypothesis to be tested is: adolescent females who consume a high calcium diet will
have a greater increase in bone quality, as measured by densitometry and ultrasound, than adolescent females
who consume their usual dietary calcium intake. The study uses an experimental design in which 58
participants (26 treatment and 32 control) will be followed for a total of 9.5 years. Participants are a
convenience sample who were age 9 when enrolled. Girls in the treatment group will continue to be given
high calcium foods to supply at least 1500 mg/day, while girls in the control group will asked to continue
consuming their usual diet. Measurements to be made at baseline, every six months, and at the end of study
include: bone quality determined with densitometry and ultrasound, height, weight, Tanner stage, and medical
and social history. Usual physical activity and dietary intake will be determined every three months. Funding
of this project in the next cycle would enable us to follow these young females continuously from age 9 to
18.5. To our knowledge, this would be the first intervention to evaluate the effects of optimal calcium intake
on bone health throughout the period of highest bone mass and bone quality accrual. It is critical that we take
advantage of this opportunity. This enthusiastic group of adolescent participants provides us with confidence
that we can successfully complete this ambitious project. Evidence of a positive effect of increased calcium
intake from food sources on bone quality in adolescent females would provide strong support for educational
efforts targeted at adolescent females, parents and care providers. Positive findings would also provide the
impetus for calcium fortification of more foods that appeal to young females. Lack of a calcium effect would
provide support for further research into other methods or concomitant methods of maximizing skeletal
Effective start/end date1/1/0312/31/08


  • National Institute of Nursing Research: $173,940.00
  • National Institute of Nursing Research: $178,125.00
  • National Institute of Nursing Research: $178,125.00
  • National Institute of Nursing Research: $178,125.00
  • National Institute of Nursing Research: $168,895.00


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