Like the “five-a-day” message for fruit and vegetables, experts believe children right through to adulthood should have at least three helpings of dairy a day to get the calcium needed for bone strength and other benefits. But a survey of parents with children at primary school has revealed just 45 percent of youngsters have two or more portions.
Around 30 percent have one portion a day, although the situation is believed to have got worse during the pandemic.
A lack of exercise and too much time indoors means younger children and teenagers are putting their bone development at risk, said the Children’s Bone Health Crisis report.
The average pupil gets 30 to 40 percent of their daily calcium intake from dairy products and up to 17 percent of vitamin D from the same sources, along with magnesium and iodine.
Dr Nisa Aslam, a GP and adviser to fromage frais brand Petits Filous, which commissioned the survey, said: “Leaving bones lacking in vitamins, protein, minerals and exercise can be detrimental. And it can go unnoticed until later in life when bone density declines.”
Dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton explained: “Children need proportionately four-and-a-half times more calcium than adults and seven times more vitamin D.”
Poor bone health in youngsters has led to a resurgence of rickets, after it largely disappeared in the 20th century.