In the midst of the nation’s growing calcium-deficiency crisis, 43 leading health and nutrition organizations gathered last week at the Calcium Summit II in Washington and pledged to encourage increased milk and dairy consumption among today’s children and adolescents.

The summit was jointly sponsored by the dairy-checkoff funded National Dairy Council, Milk Processor Education Program and the American College of Nutrition. It highlighted health and nutrition research indicating that calcium consumed during adolescence may be one of the single most important factors that determine a person’s future risk of osteoporosis.

Kids today have a multitude of beverages to choose from. It used to be that milk was synonymous with school lunch but not any more. To help compensate for funding shortfalls, schools have allowed soft drink and snack companies to aggressively market and sell their products directly to kids in schools.

“Teenagers drink twice as much soda as milk, and this trade-off, combined with a lack of exercise, may be laying the groundwork for week bones in adulthood,” said Marc Jacobson, professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Schneider Children’s Hospital. “Research reveals a link between heavy soft drink consumption during adolescence and reduced bone mass, which can greatly increase the risk of osteoporosis later in life.”

Items the group pledged to focus on include:

  • Showing parents how children easily can get at least three servings of dairy a day.
  • Encouraging parents to be role models for their children by consuming dairy products at mealtime.
  • Offering more milk varieties in schools and fewer soft drinks so children can make healthy food choices more easily.
  • Increasing the awareness with pediatricians to include a calcium check-up in their back-to-school physicals.

As a first step, dairy producers and processors — through their respective checkoff programs — announced a new program that provides $30,000 in nutrition education grants for community based programs to help increase kids’ and teens’ calcium intake.

The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the American Dietetic Association are just a few of the leading health and nutrition organizations whose members pledged their commitment to educate the public that milk is an excellent source of calcium.

For more information about the Calcium Summit II and its outcomes, visit:

Dairy Management Inc.