This study evaluated Ca intake in Hong Kong Chinese children and examined the association between long-term Ca intake and bone mineral content (BMC) in children. Longitudinal dietary intake from birth to 5 years was obtained in 128 children (sixty-seven boys, sixty-one girls). Ca intakes were evaluated by dietary history and cross-checked with food frequency and 24 h recall. At age 5 years BMC was determined at the one-third distal radius of the right arm using single-photon absorptiometry. The mean Ca intake of 133 children at 5 years was 546 (SD 325) mg/d. Milk was the chief source of Ca (43·5 %). From birth to 5 years, 90 % of the children had been taking milk regularly. The mean BMC and bone width (BW) of these children were 0·317 (SD 0·042) g/cm and 0·756 (SD 0·074) cm respectively. BMC was not correlated with current intakes of Ca, energy and protein but was positively correlated with weight (r 0·57), height (r 0·47) and BW (r 0·66). However, cumulative Ca intake throughout the past 5 years showed significant correlation with BMC (r 0·235, P = 0·0133). The significant correlation remained even after weight, height, BW, sex. and cumulative intakes of energy and protein were adjusted in multiple regression analysis (r 0·248, P = 0·0107). Moreover, using principal component analysis, Ca intake during the 2nd year of life had the strongest correlation with BMC at 5 years (r 0·240, P = 0·02). Ca intake of Hong Kong Chinese children was higher than the RDA of the Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (1962) and achieved 66% of the current US recommendation (National Research Council, 1989). The increased regular milk consumption reflects a significant change in dietary habits of the younger generation. Children with a habitually higher Ca intake throughout the past 5 years, particularly in the 2nd year, were found to have higher BMC.
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