A research team led by Dr. Hope Weiler at McGill University is studying the effects of dairy consumption on teenagers’ bone development. They will be following the dairy intake of a group of healthy teens aged 15 to 18 years old for two years. This age group is in a critical period for the development of peak bone mass or PBM. Diet and activity are key lifestyle factors in the primary prevention of osteoporosis as recognized in Canada’s Food and Activity Guides.
Called the FAMILY Milk study and supported by funding received in the Dairy Research Cluster, Dr. Weiler’s work is receiving positive attention in the community. Her work and recruitment efforts were recently publicized in the Montreal Gazette on February 17th. The team aims to include 200 teens in the study to obtain the best results possible. While teenagers are the main target group to be investigated, it is referred to as the FAMILY study because parents have such an important role in food purchases, food preparation and instilling healthy behaviours toward food for their children. As a result, parents and their habits and behaviours toward dairy will also be examined.
According to Dr. Weiler, research shows that 75% of teenagers are not consuming enough dairy products as per the recommended servings in Canada’s Food Guide. That means they may not be getting enough of the minerals they need, like calcium, during this major growth period. The health-economic costs associated with osteoporotic fracture that could be avoided if dairy was consumed as recommended are approximately 129 million Euros for France and $200 billion dollars for North Americans.
For a summary of the study, visit www.dairyresearch.ca.