Feeding your kids dairy for lifelong healthy bones

Our next blog is by Sue-Ann Steer, Master of Human Nutrition student, Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University.

The 20th of October was World Osteoporosis Day 2018. To build on this event, the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition invited Masters of Human Nutrition student Sue-Ann Steer to prepare a blog discussing osteoporosis and how to prevent it.


Osteoporosis – a hidden danger!

Many of us know an older person who has had a simple fall and broken a hip or wrist, resulting in long lasting disability or even early death.  As we age, the reason why these broken bones occur is usually due to a gradual weakening and disintegration of bone structure called osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is often called the silent epidemic because most of us won’t know we have the condition until that devastating break occurs, and yet 65% of women and 42% of men aged over sixty years with osteoporosis will break at least one bone.

Building strong bones.

The good news is that there is something we can do about it. It turns out that a key factor in preventing or delaying osteoporosis is peak bone mass.  From birth to puberty as our bones grow they are also becoming thicker and stronger. They reach their peak mass at around age 30 years, but 95% of this peak bone mass has occurred by late teenage years.  So, if we grow stronger bones through childhood and adolescence, there is less chance of developing osteoporosis in the older years.

Stronger bones and dairy.

So how do we get a higher peak bone mass? One of the main ways our bones gain strength is by consuming enough calcium during the adolescent years. This calcium is taken up by our bones from the foods we eat, and one of the best ways to get more calcium is by having dairy products. Regularly having more than two serves of dairy each day has been found to increase bone mass in girls.

Give it a go! Just a glass of milk, two slices of cheese and a tub of yoghurt helps set your children up for great future bone health!


Sue-Ann Steer, Master of Human Nutrition student, Deakin University.

Sue-Ann is also a medical practitioner with a special interest in chronic illness prevention and management through healthy eating, from infancy to old age.

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