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Calcium needs increase as a child grows. Actual intake often decreases as a child gets older, leaving his/her developing bones at risk for injury during childhood and increasing the risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. The purpose of this study was to investigate relationships between psychosocial factors influencing consumption of calcium and vitamin D-rich foods and actual intakes of these nutrients. We examined the dietary calcium and vitamin D intakes, determined serum vitamin D levels, and assessed nutrition knowledge and perception of a sample of 20 young girls participating in competitive cheerleading in Omaha, Nebraska. From this information we assessed associations that existed among the variables to determine relationships between knowledge and perceived importance of nutrients and actual intakes of these nutrients. Participants completed a 48-item psychosocial survey regarding availability, tolerance, health beliefs, social influence, preference of calcium rich foods; an 18-item nutrition survey for knowledge of calcium rich foods; and a self-assessment Tanner stage questionnaire. A sample of blood was drawn from each participant. Finally, each participant completed one multiple pass 24-hour food recall and a two day food log. Mean daily calcium and vitamin D intakes were determined from the three day intakes. Pearson correlations were computed among all variables to determine relationships. No significant relationships were found among the variables. There may have been a restriction of range likely due to small sample size as there was not much variance between many of the participants’ responses. Assessment of nutrient adequacy indicated that this population consumed inadequate levels of both calcium and vitamin D and had inadequate levels of serum vitamin D. This population may be at risk for bone injuries later in life as they may not reach optimal peak bone mass due to lack of adequate nutrients to meet demands of bone formation in this time of growth.
Advisor: Kaye Stanek-Krogstrand