Teens’ decreased milk consumption puts them, dairy industry at risk

RICHMOND—In recent years, consumption of dairy products among U.S. teens and preteens has decreased drastically. That not only creates a health risk for youth, but also has affected demand for milk and other dairy products.

"Seven out of 10 boys and nine out of 10 girls do not get the recommended calcium that they need," said Janet Grubbs, a nutrition expert for the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association Inc. "It’s important to remember that until the age of 22-25 teens are actively building bones in their body. And if they don’t put enough calcium in to build strong bones, they are more likely to get osteoporosis, which is an adolescent disease with geriatric consequences."

U.S. teens "have almost given up on milk; they are drinking about a half-gallon of soda each day while drinking only three glasses of milk per week," said Jonah Bowles, agriculture market analyst for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

"Soon, there may be an imbalance of supply and demand," for U.S. milk, Bowles said. "The public may realize the health benefits of dairy products, but where would the products come from if the demand was low?"

In eschewing milk for soda, "you’re replacing a very nutritious beverage with something that has no nutritional value," Grubbs said. "As a parent, I think the first way to set an example is to drink milk yourself. Of course you can have an alternative drink once in a while, but choosing to drink milk demonstrates a healthy lifestyle to your children."

Contact Grubbs at 757-312-9324 or Bowles at 804-290-1117.

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