New online resources stressing the importance of calcium for bone health are now available for middle and high school teachers. The resources are available through the Milk Matters calcium education campaign, sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health.
The new resources, available at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/milk/teachers feature fun, hands-on classroom lessons created to teach young people about the importance of calcium for bone health.
The online lessons for teachers are part of the NICHD’s Milk Matters calcium education campaign, which aims to increase awareness about the importance of calcium in children’s and adolescents’ diets. The campaign encourages 11-to-15-year-olds in particular to consume sufficient calcium because these are the years of rapid bone growth.
“Teachers play an important role in raising awareness about healthy behaviors,” said NICHD Director Duane Alexander, M.D. "The Milk Matters" Web resources offer teachers user-friendly tools that focus on the importance of calcium for bone health among tweens and teens, age groups that often don’t get enough calcium to meet their needs.”
Milk Matters’ online lesson resources are designed to help students understand the importance of making smart food choices through calcium lessons, fact sheets, take-home assignments, and classroom discussion. In The Great Calcium Challenge, students learn to read nutrition labels and calculate their calcium intake. The Calcium Collector includes a game in which students choose a combination of foods that will provide 1,300 milligrams of calcium—the daily recommended intake. Both lessons also reinforce students’ math skills.
The Smart Snack Cookbook gives students an opportunity to create a recipe book of simple, healthy snacks, such as fruit smoothies. The lesson resources also include a lactose intolerance discussion guide to help teachers discuss the symptoms of lactose intolerance (stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating, and gas) and ways for reducing them. All of the materials are consistent with National Health Education Standards. These Standards were developed by the American Association for Health Education, the American Public Health Association, the American School Health Association, and the Society of State Directors of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation to establish, promote, and support health–enhancing behaviors for students in all grade levels.
In addition to teacher materials, the Milk Matters Web site offers a variety of free materials for parents and health care providers that emphasize the importance of calcium in the diets of children and teens, including a booklet, poster, fact sheets, a coloring book, and sticker. Many of these materials are available in English and Spanish.
The Milk Matters campaign stresses low-fat or fat-free milk as an excellent source of calcium because:
- milk has high calcium content in a form the body can easily absorb
- 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
- milk is widely available and is already a part of many people’s diets.
To download the classroom activities and other Milk Matters materials, or for more information on the Milk Matters campaign, visit 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 sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Web site at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.