The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is introducing a new series of Web games for children on its Milk Matters Web site. The new games site (http://www.nichd.nih.gov/milk/kids/Pages/kidsteens.aspx) features children's animated action games, puzzles, and mazes that are designed to be fun while teaching them about the importance of calcium.
"Most girls and boys between the ages of 12-19 don't get the daily calcium they need," said NICHD Director Duane Alexander, M.D. "Lack of calcium during these important bone growth years puts children and young adults at risk for osteoporosis later in life and may increase their risk for childhood bone fractures."
The Milk Matters education campaign is designed to increase awareness about the importance of calcium in children's and adolescents' diets. In the past, the Milk Matters campaign developed education materials for health professionals to convey the importance of adequate calcium consumption among their children and teen patients. Currently, the campaign is reaching out to parents and children directly through its website, using the power of games and animation to educate young audiences.
The games and activities feature the campaign's new "spokescow," Bo Vine, an energetic Holstein who loves milk. Bo is featured in "The Great Escape," an animated game in which players must help Bo avoid obstacles around the farm while they help her grab food high in calcium to get enough points to go to The Calcium Fair. Bo also appears in the five other new games: The Great Escape Mazes, Word Decoder, Puzzle, Coloring pages, and Cow Bop.
"We want children to have fun while they learn about the importance of calcium," Dr. Alexander said, "and these games are fun."
In addition to games, the Milk Matters Web site offers a variety of free materials on the importance of calcium in the diets of children and teens. These items include brochures, booklets, fact sheets, coloring books, stickers, and posters, most available in both English and Spanish. These materials can be viewed online and ordered at no charge from the NICHD.
The Milk Matters campaign stresses low-fat or fat-free milk as an excellent source of dietary calcium because:
- Milk has a high calcium content.
- The body easily absorbs calcium in milk.
- Milk contains other nutrients, including vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin K, riboflavin, B12, potassium, magnesium, and protein, that are essential to healthy bone and tooth development.
For more information on the Milk Matters campaign, visit the campaign Web site at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/milk/ or contact the NICHD Information Resource Center at 1-800-370-2943; e-mail NICHDInformationResourceCenter@mail.nih.gov.
The NICHD is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the biomedical research arm of the federal government. NIH is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. NICHD publications, as well as information about the Institute, are available from the NICHD Web site, http://www.nichd.nih.gov, or from the NICHD Information Resource Center, 1-800-370-2943; e-mail NICHDInformationResourceCenter@mail.nih.gov.