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Calcium plays an important part in a child's diet. Canada's Food Guide recommends two to three servings of dairy products daily for children aged four to nine and three to four servings for youths aged 10 to 16.

Got calcium?

Calcium plays an important part in a child's diet. Canada's Food Guide recommends two to three servings of dairy products daily for children aged four to nine and three to four servings for youths aged 10 to 16.

Unfortunately, many kids prefer drinking pop and juice to milk. Children who do not like milk may, however, enjoy other types of dairy products such as yogourt and cheese. Yogourt with fresh fruit or cheese and whole-grain crackers make nutritious and delicious snacks.

Besides dairy products, calcium-rich foods include dark leafy greens, tofu, beans, canned sardines and salmon, and sesame and sunflower seeds.

Sugary drinks damage teeth

According to several recent studies, today's kids are consuming large amount of sugar-laden beverages, including pop, powdered drinks like Kool-Aid, and fruit juices. This is bad news for teeth.

When sugar is consumed, the bacteria in the mouth mix with the sugar to form a mild acid. This acid attacks the hard outer layer (enamel) of the teeth, and contributes to the formation of cavities. While studies suggest that 100-percent fruit juice is somewhat better for teeth than pop or powdered drinks, fruit juices also contain natural sugar.

The major concern is how much sugar goes into the mouth and how long it stays there. Cut down on sugary drinks and foods for your child, and get them to brush and floss daily, especially before bed, when sugar can sit on teeth for hours&the longer it stays, the more damage it can do.

Kids' organized sports: Not for everyone

As highlighted in a recent study, approximately 54 percent of young people aged six to 18 years participate in organized sports.

There are children who shy away from team sports for both physical and emotional reasons: Some kids don't like rules and competition, others feel uncomfortable in large groups, and kids who are small for their age might feel they just can't keep up with their peers. Most team sports have "winners" and "losers."

Whatever the reason, there are many other ways kids can get exercise, and - just as important - have fun. Activities such as inline skating, bicycling, and martial arts are mainly non-competitive. Taking the dog for a walk, raking leaves, and jumping rope are also easy and fun ways for kids to keep active.

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