Early education crucial to prevent bone neglect

Early education crucial to prevent bone neglect

New report reveals parents value bone health education in schools to bridge bone gap

Australian parents report that children are falling short of the mark when it comes to bone health according to new research set for release today (1) to mark Healthy Bones Action Week (Aug 20-26).

Accordingly to the report, 92 per cent of parents believe that their children are getting enough calcium, vitamin D and exercise – actions renowned as the building blocks for healthy bones. However, whilst nine out of 10 parents acknowledge that dairy is an important source of calcium, the report suggests that in reality only one-third of children consume the recommended daily serves of dairy foods.

This follows Australian Health Survey (2) findings released earlier this year that only two in 10 children get enough calcium from the dairy food group.

According to Dr Rachel Duckham, childhood bone growth expert from the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Deakin University, Melbourne, strong bone development throughout childhood is critical to build bones for the future.

“It’s alarming that so many Australian children aren’t getting the calcium and recommended physical activity they need to develop their bones. Building strong bones starts when you’re young, but sets you up for life,” said Dr Duckham.

The report suggested that schools are set to play a major role in building the nation’s bone health. The vast majority of parents (88 per cent) agree children should be educated about bone health at school.

Furthermore, four in five parents were positive about the role schools can play in nutritional education, and the same number have taken to home-schooling to educate children about the benefits of dairy for building strong bones.

“The good news is that parents and schools are increasingly recognising the importance of education for bone health, however, it is now Australia’s responsibility to ensure that bone health education is embedded into a child’s learning,” Dr Duckham said.

“Parents are overwhelmingly in favour of schools playing their role in bone health education.

“Healthy Bones Action Week is a great opportunity for schools, parents and children to get involved and take action for their bone health.”

To mark Healthy Bones Action Week, Dairy Australia are providing parents, teachers and communities with free resources to help with bone health education. These include games, posters and worksheets to encourage strong, healthy bones for children now and into the future.

Dairy Australia dietitian, Emma Glassenbury, says the importance of nutrition education for bone health is fundamental for children.

“Understanding what their bones need is the first important step for all school children. By educating children early, we can set them up for the long run.

“The three most important things for kids to remember are weight bearing exercise, vitamin D from safe sun exposure, and calcium-rich foods are key to support strong, healthy bones,” Ms Glassenbury said.

Dairy foods are one of the richest sources of calcium in the diet. They also contain other essential nutrients, such as phosphorus, magnesium and zinc to support healthy bone development and maintenance.

About Healthy Bones Action Week
Healthy Bones Action Week, supported by Dairy Australia is encouraging all Australians to take action for healthy bones, using these three simple steps; weight bearing exercise, calcium-rich foods and vitamin D from safe sun exposure.
Dairy Australia is bringing bone health to the forefront of the minds of Australian schools, households and communities through education, programs and fun ways for parents, teachers and children to become involved.

About the Healthy Bones Action Week Research
The Healthy Bones Action Week Research commissioned by Dairy Australia, surveyed 1,017 Australians about their thoughts and perceptions towards bone health and dairy consumption. The survey featured 10 questions, with a national representation of Australians aged 18 and over.

Media enquiries:
Aaron Dowling — Account Director, Edelman
0474 269 294 / aaron.dowling@edelman.com

Cassie Whelan — PR Manager, Dairy Australia
0422 677 476 / cassie.whelan@dairyaustralia.com.au

1 Healthy Bones Action Week Research commissioned by Dairy Australia.