Behavioral intervention in adolescents improves bone mass, yet lactose maldigestion is a barrier

Yujin Lee, Dennis A. Savaiano, George P. McCabe, Francis M. Pottenger, Kathleen Welshimer, Connie M. Weaver, Linda D. McCabe, Rachel Novotny, Marsha Read, Scott Going, April Mason, Marta Van Loan, Carol J. Boushey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Calcium intake during adolescence is important for attainment of peak bone mass. Lactose maldigestion is an autosomal recessive trait, leading to lower calcium intake. The Adequate Calcium Today study aimed to determine if a school-based targeted behavioral intervention over one year could improve calcium intake and bone mass in early adolescent girls. The school-randomized intervention was conducted at middle schools in six states over one school year. A total of 473 girls aged 10–13 years were recruited for outcome assessments. Bone mineral content (BMC) was determined by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry. Dietary calcium intake was assessed with a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire. Baseline calcium intake and BMC were not significantly different between groups. After the intervention period, there were no differences in changes in calcium intake and BMC at any site between groups. An unanticipated outcome was a greater increase in spinal BMC among lactose digesters than lactose maldigesters in the intervention schools only (12 months) (6.9 ± 0.3 g vs. 6.0 ± 0.4 g, p = 0.03) and considering the entire study period (18 months) (9.9 ± 0.4 vs. 8.7 ± 0.5 g, p < 0.01). Overall, no significant differences between the intervention and control schools were observed. However, lactose digesters who received the intervention program increased bone mass to a greater extent than lactose maldigesters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number421
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Adolescents
  • Bone
  • Calcium
  • Lactose maldigestion
  • Perceived milk intolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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