The US National Medical Association (NMA), the professional organisation of African American physicians, launched a new calcium education campaign at their annual meeting in August, to encourage american adolescents to recognise the importance of calcium-rich foods.
"The National Medical Association is making it a top priority to address the lack of calcium in African American kids' and teens' diets," says Ramona Tascoe, M.D., chair of the Women's Health Section for the NMA. "The teen years are crucial bone building years when the calcium and vitamin D in milk is critical yet often missed because of the increased consumption of soda and juice drinks as well as misinformation about lactose intolerance."
To help prevent future fractures among African Americans, the NMA will be providing to their members a new calcium patient education kit including a youth-focused tearpad highlighting the importance of calcium with facts to crumble myths about lactose intolerance.
"Misinformation about lactose intolerance can lead people to unnecessarily cut dairy from the diet," says Jeanette Newton Keith, M.D., assistant professor of clinical medicine in the department of gastroenterology/nutrition at the University of Chicago. "Yet, milk provides calcium plus eight other essential nutrients and without milk it is very difficult to consume adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D."
According to United States Department of Agriculture data (Food Surveys Research Group, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Food and Nutrient Intakes by Individuals in the United States, by Race, 1995-96. Table Set 11; Ages 12-19) African American teen boys are not getting the bone-building calcium that their growing bodies need. African American teens drink less milk than their Caucasian peers and their calcium intake is significantly lower. The data is particularly troubling regarding African American young girls (ages 12-19) who on average drink less than one glass of milk a day and only get half the 1,300 mg of calcium that they need daily.
The calcium education initiative is sponsored by an educational grant from the National Dairy Council and Milk Processor Education Program.