June 1/The Irish Times -- The diets of Irish children and teens do not include enough calcium, leaving them deficient in this and other nutrients, according to research quoted by the National Dairy Council (NDC).
More than 40% of teenage girls and 23% of teenage boys do not take enough calcium in their diets, the council said.
The council called for greater involvement by parents and children in the EU-subsidized school milk and dairy program. This would increase calcium intake but also of essential vitamins, the council said.
Calcium intake was of particular concern during childhood and teenage years, the council said. This was a time when calcium stores were built up in growing bones.
Adults needed about three portions of milk and dairy products a day, while teens and women during pregnancy and breastfeeding need about five portions in order to meet calcium requirements, the council said.
Adolescence was also a time when future eating habits were set with a subsequent impact on future health, said Dr. Catherine Logan, nutrition manager with the NDC.
A 10-year study in the U.S. had shown that children who consumed more soft drinks tended to continue to be consumers of these products as they grew older.
Such trends are worrying because it means that some children may not be getting the nutritional benefits they could get from natural milk and dairy products, Logan said.
Children needed all the encouragement they could get to adopt healthy lifestyles to improve their health profiles in the future.
From the June 7, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition