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HHS Launches Best Bones Forever!™ 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                   
Tuesday, September 1, 2009

HHS LAUNCHES Best Bones Forever!™
Campaign Targets Girls as Bone Health Risks Rise

(North Las Vegas, NV)—U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced a new campaign, called Best Bones Forever!™, designed to improve bone health and decrease the risk of osteoporosis. Research shows that bone fracture rates are increasing, and few adolescent girls get the recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D—the building blocks for strong bones.

Osteoporosis is often called a “pediatric disease with geriatric consequences.” Childhood and adolescence are the key windows of opportunity for building strong bones and warding off the disease. In girls, close to 90 percent of bone mass is built by age 18. Girls, in particular, are at greatest risk for bone problems. Osteoporosis is four times more common in women than men, and adolescent girls consume calcium and participate in physical activity at lower rates than boys.  The new campaign empowers girls ages 9 to 14 to build the Best Bones Forever!™

“We want girls to know that if you’re older than nine, now’s your time!” said Secretary Sebelius.  “Building strong bones now will help you stand tall for a lifetime.”

HHS recommends girls look for foods with calcium and vitamin D, which is necessary to help bones absorb calcium. One recent study found 70 percent of kids in the U.S. had below-normal levels of vitamin D, with deficiencies increasing as kids age from childhood to adolescence.  The federal government recommends that girls over 9 consume 1300 mg of calcium per day because at that approximate age they are entering a period of rapid bone growth.  The guidelines for physical activity for kids are 60 minutes daily, including three days of bone-strengthening activity.

The new campaign embraces an issue close to every girl’s heart: friendship. Best Bones Forever!™, developed by the HHS’ Office on Women’s Health (OWH),urges girls and their BFFs (best friends forever) to ‘grow strong together, and stay strong forever.’ Research shows that girls whose friends like milk are more likely to have higher calcium intake. Similarly, physical activity also gets a boost among girls whose friends have positive attitudes toward sports. 

The message for parents is one of urgency. Girls between the ages of 9 to 18 are in their critical bone-building years. Campaign materials and a Web site for parents empower them to “Act now to help her build her Best Bones Forever!™”  When asked about who has the biggest influence on what they eat, girls ages 8 to 15 first cite parents (83 percent), followed by “themselves” (60 percent), and friends (19 percent).

“Parents can make a big difference in helping their kids build strong, healthy bones, and the things that improve bone health are also good for overall health,” said Dr. Wanda Jones, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health (Women’s Health), HHS. “So go ahead and stock the fridge with foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, like yogurt, milk, cheese, tofu with added calcium, and leafy greens.  Encourage her to be active, and do things as a family such as taking walks after dinner.”

Best Bones Forever!™ updates and revamps an earlier national bone health campaign for girls called Powerful Bones. Powerful Girls, which was first launched in 2001.  In order to appeal to girls as they mature, the new campaign has adopted an edgy vibe, trading the earlier campaign’s cartoon spokescharacter for the ‘exskullmation’ point.  This new iconic symbol is designed to get girls excited about building the best bones forever.

The Best Bones Forever!™ community pilot program also launched today in three sites: North Las Vegas, NV; Ulster County, NY; and Pinal County, AZ. Coalitions in each site will bring the campaign to their communities through a range of activities. They will also be executing and evaluating a bone health behavior change program for parents and girls called BodyWorks.  Adapted from OWH’s existing family health and fitness program for parents, BodyWorks will feature a new complementary physical activity program just for girls in these communities. Results from the community pilot program will demonstrate which activities can be replicated in towns across the country.

Best Bones Forever!™ is a public-private partnership that brings together organizations from across the country. Founding partner, National Osteoporosis Foundation, tops a partner roster that also includes Girl Scouts, Girls Inc., Action for Healthy Kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, National Association of School Nurses, the National Institutes of Health, Women's Sports Foundation, and more.

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Office on Women’s Health

The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) was established in 1991.  OWH coordinates the efforts of all the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ agencies and offices involved in women’s health.  The office works to improve the health and well-being of women and girls in the United States through its programs, by educating health professionals and motivating behavior change in consumers through the dissemination of health information.       

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