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Keywords:

  • children;
  • dairy food;
  • diet quality;
  • obesity;
  • osteoporosis;
  • peak bone mass

Abstract

Aim:  This paper provides an overview of the consumption of dairy foods by Australian children and their contribution to nutrient intake, diet quality and optimal health. Practical approaches to meet the recommended intake of dairy foods are also presented.

Methods:  A computerised search was conducted of English language papers on PubMed. Additional papers were identified by searching references in relevant papers and book chapters.

Results:  A high proportion of Australian children do not meet the dietary requirements for calcium or the recommended intake of dairy foods. The consumption of dairy foods is critical for meeting calcium requirements while providing significant amounts of other nutrients. Studies demonstrate that dairy food consumption is important for growth, building peak bone mass and prevention of osteoporosis and bone fracture. While there is evidence that dairy food consumption may play a role in other diseases, that is, obesity and hypertension, there are limited studies in children. Various barriers may limit intake thus effective behavioural interventions need to be developed.

Conclusions:  Diets including recommended amounts of dairy foods can help maximize peak bone mass, minimize bone loss and promote overall health. Dieticians are integral in educating children and their parents and caregivers who are key in encouraging children to consume recommended amounts of dairy foods.