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    Finally, Ice Cream Is Good for You Additive in the low-fat flavors may make kids bones stronger, say researchers By Pat Curry HealthScoutNews Reporter
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 7, 2001
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      Finally, Ice Cream Is Good for You

      Additive in the low-fat flavors may make kids' bones
      stronger, say researchers

      By Pat Curry
      HealthScoutNews Reporter

      THURSDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthScoutNews) -- The additive
      that makes low-fat ice cream smooth may also make
      kids' bones stronger, a group of researchers think.

      Baylor College of Medicine scientists are beginning a
      year-long study to see if they can duplicate the
      results they saw in an earlier study on inulin, which
      is an additive that also gives sauces and gravies
      better "mouth feel" and makes meat juicier.

      Inulin is a carbohydrate found naturally in such foods
      as asparagus, garlic, bananas, onions and several
      grains. Partially digestible, it is high in soluble
      fiber and has only 1.5 calories per gram, compared to
      9 calories per gram in fat and 4 per gram in fully
      digestible carbohydrates like sugar. It's used to add
      texture to a variety of low-calorie foods. (On
      ingredient labels, it may be listed as inulin,
      oligofructose or chicory root fiber.)

      "It's classically found in Jerusalem artichoke, which
      is not very popular among teen-agers," says Dr. Steven
      Abrams, a pediatrics professor at Baylor College of
      Medicine and the researcher who is leading the study.

      In 2000, Abrams reported that adolescent girls whose
      high-calcium diets were supplemented with inulin
      increased their calcium absorption by almost 80
      milligrams, which would be the equivalent of drinking
      an extra 7 ounces of milk. That study, sponsored by a
      company that manufactures a brand of inulin, ran for
      two months. Now, the researchers are expanding the
      study to 9- to 12-year-old boys and girls to see what
      happens when inulin is added to calcium-fortified
      orange juice for a year.

      Adolescence is the most important time in a person's
      life for calcium absorption, Abrams says. Adolescents
      absorb more calcium -- between 30 percent and 40
      percent, depending on their diet -- than adults or
      younger children because of the hormonal changes that
      occur during puberty.

      Teen-age girls, however, rarely eat the calcium-rich
      diet needed to get the recommended daily intake of
      1,300 milligrams, which is roughly the equivalent of
      four 8-ounce glasses of milk. The National Women's
      Health Information Center reports that eight out of 10
      adolescent girls don't get enough calcium -- at a time
      in their lives when they're building their lifetime
      measure of bone mass.

      "It's more problematic with girls than boys because
      they're more aware about their weight," says Dr.
      Douglas Rogers, a pediatric endocrinologist at
      Cleveland Clinic. "They stop drinking milk because
      they think it's fattening."

      The effect can be devastating as women age, he adds.
      When the body stops producing estrogen after
      menopause, calcium quickly leaches out of the bones
      and contributes to osteoporosis.

      "The vast majority of calcium laid down in our bones
      is done during adolescence," he says. "If teen-age
      girls miss that opportunity, it's gone forever. It's
      very hard after about age 20 to actually get more
      calcium into the bones naturally. There are medical
      things we can do to force that, but naturally, it's
      very difficult to build up or increase the amount of
      calcium in the bone. After 20, [we're] just trying to
      slow down the rate of loss."

      Although the Baylor study is looking at the impact of
      inulin on high-calcium diets, Abrams says he's hopeful
      that inulin also can help increase calcium absorption
      in those whose diets are too low in calcium.

      "We know that even though the recommended intake of
      calcium is 1,300 milligrams per day, kids have a lot
      of trouble reaching that goal," Abrams says. "We're
      looking for other ways to do that."

      What To Do

      For more information on calcium and teens and a list
      of high-calcium foods, visit the Center for Young
      Women's Health at Children's Hospital Boston. You can
      read more about why young women should care about
      osteoporosis at the National Women's Health
      Information Center. For details on inulin, visit the
      Food and Drug Administration Web site. This article
      deals specifically with hydrolized inulin syrup as an
      unlisted food additive, but explains the FDA's
      position on the safety of inulin as an additive.

      For information on enrolling in the BoneMax study,
      visit the Children's Nutrition Research Center at
      Baylor College of Medicine.

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      For information on clinical trials being conducted on
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      SOURCES: Interviews with Steven Abrams, M.D.,
      professor of pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine,
      Houston, Texas; Douglas Rogers, M.D., pediatric
      endocrinologist, Cleveland Clinic, Ohio; information
      from Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas

      Copyright � 2001 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

      Last updated 11/29/2001.

      This article can be accessed directly at:

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