Milk and other dairy products have long been recommended for building children's bones. Yet the long-term benefits of childhood dairy intake have not been clear.
Now, a new study has shown that children who get at least two servings of dairy products a day tend to have stronger bones as teenagers.
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine followed 106 children from the time they were 3 to 5 years old until they were between the ages of 15 and 17. During this study, parents kept food diaries to record what their children were eating each day. At the end of the study, when the children were in adolescence, they underwent bone scans.
The researchers found that children who ate at least two daily servings of dairy had greater bone mineral content and greater bone density as teens compared with their peers who ate less dairy during childhood.
One cup (250 ml) of milk, one cup of yogurt, or 1.5 ounces of hard cheese are all considered to be one serving of dairy.
Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating recommends choosing lower fat dairy foods - such as fat-free yogurt, partly skimmed cheese, and skim, 1% or 2% milk - more often.
This study, which was partially funded by the National Dairy Council, is in press at the Journal of Pediatrics.
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