Facts and Resources for Inspiration

Project Specific Tools

Building Healthy Bones

  • Dairy food consumption falls below recommended amounts by school-age, on average, a trend that carries forward through the teen years into adulthood. (1)
  • Milk contributes the most vitamins and minerals to children’s nutrient intakes compared to other beverages. It is the leading source of nine essential nutrients in children 2-18 years old, including protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, vitamins A, B12, D and riboflavin. (2)
  • Although bones may appear lifeless, they are alive and growing. Existing bone constantly is being renewed through a process called remodeling. Your body needs a good supply of calcium to fuel this process. (9)
  • Though boys and girls develop bone mass at the same rate before puberty, boys tend to gain greater bone mass at a greater speed after age 10. Girls have a shorter window of time to gain their optimum peak bone mass. (13)
  • Any kind of physical exercise is great for your kids, but the best ones for their bones are weight-bearing activities like walking, running, hiking, dancing, tennis, basketball, gymnastics, and soccer. (Children who tend to play outside will also have higher vitamin D levels.)(15)
  • Osteoporosis, the disease that causes bones to become less dense and more prone to fractures, has been called “a pediatric disease with geriatric consequences,” because the bone mass attained in childhood and adolescence is an important determinant of lifelong skeletal health. The health habits your kids are forming now can make, or literally break, their bones as they age.(15)

Building Healthy Brains 

  • Iron needs go up dramatically in the teen years… As teens grow, their muscle mass increases and blood volume expands, increasing their need for iron.. (3)
  • Your body needs energy to function and grow. Calories from food and drinks give you that energy…  Balancing the energy you take in through food and beverages with the energy you use for growth, activity, and daily living is called “energy balance.” Energy balance may help you stay a healthy weight. (5)
  • Adequate hydration may also improve cognitive function in children and adolescents, which is important for learning. (11)
  • There is a correlation between number of days in a week one consumes fruit and vegetables and a person’s level of happiness. Those who consumed fruit and vegetables every day of the week were significantly more likely to report being happy in the short-term. (12)
  • Certain nutrients have greater effects on brain development than do others. These include protein, energy, certain fats, iron, zinc, copper, iodine, selenium, vitamin A, choline, and folate.(14)

Building Healthy Habits  

  • During middle and late adolescence, girls eat roughly 25% fewer calories per day than boys do; consequently, they are more likely to be deficient in vitamins and minerals.  (4)
  • Empty calories from added sugars and solid fats contribute to 40% of total daily calories for 2–18 year olds… (6).   The typical American diets exceed the recommended intake levels or limits in four categories: calories from solid fats and added sugars; refined grains; sodium; and saturated fat. (7)
  • Nearly one-third of high school students play video or computer games for 3 or more hours on an average school day (8)
  • Vegetable consumption relative to recommendations is lowest among boys ages 9 to 13 years and girls ages 14 to 18 years. (10)
  • Local food has a shorter time between harvest and your table, and it is less likely that the nutrient value has decreased.(16)
  • Local food sourcing and farm-to-school initiatives also can help the local economyand the environmentand can help reduce plate waste in schools. (17)

  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2015. Food Patterns Equivalent Intakes from Food: Consumed per Individual, by Gender and Age, What We Eat in America, NHANES 2011-2012. Available at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/80400530/pdf/fped/Table_1_FPED_GEN_1112.pdf
  2. Keast DR, O’Neil CE, Fulgoni VL, et al. Food sources of energy and nutrients among children in the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003–2006. Nutrients 2013;5(1):283-301.
  3. https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/give-your-teens-iron-a-boost
  4. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/nutrition/Pages/A-Teenagers-Nutritional-Needs.aspx Committee on Nutrition (Copyright © 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics)
  5. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/take-charge-health-guide-teenagers#checklist
  6. Reedy J, Krebs-Smith SM. Dietary sources of energy, solid fats, and added sugars among children and adolescents in the United States. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 110, Issue 10, Pages 1477-1484, October 2010.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20869486
  7. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietaryguidelines.htm
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2011]. MMWR 2012;61(No. SS-66104):[1-168]). Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6104a1.htm
  9. http://www.novidocs.com/Portals/2607/web-content/files/1%20Calcium%20for%20teens.pdf
  10. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-2/a-closer-look-at-current-intakes-and-recommended-shifts/
  11. Childhood Nutrition Facts:  https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/nutrition/facts.htm
  12. https://pbhfoundation.org/sites/default/files/pdf/Novel%20Approaches%20Executive%20Summary.pdf
  13. https://americanbonehealth.org/young-athletes/optimizing-peak-bone-mass-in-children/
  14. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/85/2/614S/4649636
  15. https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/juvenile
  16. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/7_benefits_of_eating_local_foods
  17. https://www.fueluptoplay60.com/playbooks/last-seasons-plays/farm-to-school#tab_tab1