South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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Calcium intake and knowledge among white adolescent girls in Gauteng, South Africa

Cecilia T Chemaly, Una E MacIntyre, Heidi Abrahamse


Objectives. To determine the knowledge and intake of calcium among white adolescent girls in Gauteng, South Africa.

Design. A quantitative study using a questionnaire interview conducted over 13 months (1 June 2000 - 31 July 2001).

Settings. Sixteen randomly selected private and state schools in the Gauteng area.

Subjects. Adolescent white girls aged between 15 and 17 years.

Outcome measures. Calcium intake and knowledge using a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) and 7-day weighed records (WRS).

Results. Mean calcium intake according to the FFQ was 811 mg/day (adequate intake (AI) 1 300 mg/day). Fiftyone per cent of participants had not been given any information relating to calcium and its benefits. Teachers and parents are the most noted sources of information and 31% of the participants knew that adolescence was the most important period for calcium absorption and bone building.

Conclusions. Adolescents have low intakes of calcium compared with what is recommended. It is important to develop intervention programmes that target children, adolescents, teachers and mothers alike. It is also imperative to develop awareness of the importance of calcium consumption during childhood and adolescence in order to minimise the possibility of osteoporosis in later life.
South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition Vol.17(3) 2004: 102-108
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