Higher levels of dairy servings, calcium and vitamin D intakes, energy intake, and vigorous physical activity (e.g., running, basketball, soccer, dance) were associated with higher levels of bone mineral content and greater height, after adjustment for age, race and sex, in a large group of black and white teens. Vigorous physical activity was only associated with height in girls. This large study among 660 adolescents (14-18 years) in Georgia investigated the potential inter-relationships between diet and physical activity on bone mineral content, and secondarily, on height, in order to guide interventions that will help youth develop a healthy body composition.
Previously published data from this population found that adolescents who engage in more vigorous physical activity consume more calories than those less physically active, but tend to have relatively low body fat, putting them at lower risk for cardiometabolic disease. It is possible that consuming more calories allows for greater consumption of bone- and growth-enhancing nutrients. This combined with the effect of vigorous activity may have favorable effects not only on risk for cardiometabolic disease, but also on bone health.
Dairy products with calcium and vitamin D provide building material for bone, while vigorous physical activity provides the mechanical stimulation needed to promote bone formation. These results indicate that interventions designed to help youth develop healthy bodies should focus on encouraging physical activity and eating sufficient food and nutrients rather than on negative messages of restricting calories, which may lead to reduced intake of nutrients critically needed for growth.
The results of this study confirm the guiding principles of the in-school nutrition and physical activity program, Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP 60), launched by National Dairy Council® and the National Football League®, in collaboration with United States Department of Agriculture. This interactive program, available in schools across the country, encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods (low-fat and fat-free dairy foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. FUTP 60 is designed to engage and empower youth to take action for their own health by implementing long-term, positive changes for themselves and their schools.
Gutin B, Stallmann-Jorgensen IS, Le AH, Johnson MH, Dong Y. Relations of diet and physical activity to bone mass and height in black and white adolescents. Pediatric Rep.
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