Back-to-School Season Kids Can Snack Their Way To Stronger Bones

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Only 10 percent of girls and 25 percent of boys get the calcium they need in the 'tween' years, ages 9-13, to build peak bone mass.

At back-to-school time, most parents are dedicated to helping their kids build a lifetime of knowledge, but kids need to build more than their minds to lead a long and healthy life. They need to build strong bones too.

A July 2007 survey of parents of school-aged children, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for GTC Nutrition, found that the majority of parents, almost 60 percent, are in the dark when it comes to knowing how much calcium their kids need on a daily basis. Furthermore, over 30 percent of the parents surveyed mistakenly believe their children need less than half of the daily recommended 1,300 mg of calcium for kids aged nine years and older.

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Not only are parents unaware of how much calcium their kids need, but 75 percent of those surveyed also grossly underestimate the amount of nutrition that comes from snacking between meals. According to the Mayo Clinic, as much as 40 percent of kids' nutritional value may come from snacking on any given day. Yet in fact, more than 50 percent of parents surveyed underestimate this percentage by at least half.

While many kids are clearly making some unhealthy snacking choices after-school, parents said approximately 60 percent are also choosing healthier snack alternatives, such as yogurt or fruit. However, a significant number of kids still prefer snacks with little nutritional value, with almost 40 percent citing potato chips, cookies or candy as their after-school snack of choice. "Growing kids like to snack, which presents an opportunity for parents to positively influence or change the type of snacks they provide," said Dr. Coni Francis, a registered dietitian with GTC Nutrition. "Kids' snacking habits, coupled with the large percentage of kids who consume an inadequate amount of calcium, create a perfect opportunity this back-to-school season for parents to help their kids by selecting better-for-your bones snacks."

GTC Nutrition is encouraging parents to help kids make better after-school snack choices by bringing healthy, bone-building foods into the home. Snacks that are rich in calcium and contain prebiotics can help boost both the calcium in kids' diets and the amount of calcium absorbed by their bodies. A prebiotic is a non-digestible soluble fiber that can significantly boost calcium absorption by encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria in the body. One of the most effective prebiotics currently available is NutraFlora prebiotic fiber. "NutraFlora acts quickly and is active during the peak time for calcium and mineral absorption, about four hours after food is ingested" according to Dr. Francis.

Many bone-healthy foods enhanced with NutraFlora prebiotic fiber, such as Horizon Organic yogurts and smoothies, can be served as a snack on their own or incorporated into easy and fun after-school snack recipes that are sure to please any kid's palate. Simply by whipping up one of these delicious recipes, parents can help kids build strong bones for a lifetime. The following recipe is just one of several bone-healthy after-school snacks Dr. Francis has developed.

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