Dr. Carol J. Boushey


Foods and Nutrition




CFS, grandparents, dietary calcium, early adolescents


Introduction. Early adolescents are a group at risk for reducing calcium intakes during a time of maximal bone accretion. Sociological research suggests that grandparents can positively influence their grandchildren’s self esteem. Therefore, this study hypothesized that early adolescents from households with a grandparent(s) would have a more positive attitude toward calcium-rich foods and a higher consumption of total calcium than their counterparts in households without a grandparent(s).

Methods. This study used a cross-sectional design involving the administration of a questionnaire to a child (10 - 13 y) and a questionnaire to the adult responsible for food acquisition and preparation in the child's household. One criterion for inclusion was that parents self-identified as Asian, Hispanic, or non-Hispanic white (NHW). 533 children and 519 parents (517 parent/child dyads) completed questionnaires from 8 states. The respective questionnaires were designed to assess calcium intakes and psychosocial factors related to calcium-rich foods. For this analysis, only children with complete information on age, race/ethnicity, gender, and household composition were included (n=519). All analyses were conducted separately for each race/ethnic group (Asian=53, Hispanic=194, NHW=272). Dependent quantitative variables were compared using multivariate linear regression.

Results. The differences in calcium intakes between those adolescents in grandparent households and those households without grandparents were not significantly different as were the psychosocial factors related to taste preferences for calcium-rich foods and healthy benefits of calcium-rich foods. However, among NHW adolescents, those from grandparent households were less likely to perceive themselves as being intolerant to milk (p=.05).

Conclusions. Small sample sizes within each race/ethnic group may have limited the statistical power to find differences. Among the Asian and Hispanic households, results would suggest that grandparents have little influence with regard to calcium intakes. While the presence of a grandparent in a NHW household may positively influence factors related to enhancing calcium intakes