New Program Addresses Lactose Digestion Among Boston Schoolchildren

HP Hood and City of Boston Team Up to Increase Availability

of Lactose-Free Milk and Educate Children and Parents about Nutrition;

Educational Outreach Program Features Boston Celtics Star Paul Pierce

Mar 23, 2001, 00:00 ET from HP Hood

    BOSTON, March 23 /PRNewswire/ -- A new outreach program announced today by
 the Boston Public Schools and HP Hood will feature Boston Celtics Co-captain
 Paul Pierce and teammate Walter McCarty in an initiative to raise awareness of
 lactose intolerance as part of an overall nutrition education campaign.  The
 program features Pierce and McCarty in public service advertising, educational
 materials, and presentations aimed at educating Boston school children and
 their parents about lactose intolerance and its management, as well as other
 nutrition information. As part of this program, the Boston Public Schools have
 increased the availability of lactose-free milk.  It is believed to be the
 first program of its kind in the United States.
     Approximately 25 percent of American adults have some difficulty consuming
 milk and other dairy products because they have trouble digesting lactose, the
 main sugar found naturally in dairy products. This condition, referred to as
 lactose "intolerance" or "maldigestion", is most common in African Americans,
 Asians, and Hispanics-groups that make up the majority of students in Boston's
 public schools. People who suffer upset stomachs because they have trouble
 digesting lactose often avoid all dairy products, thereby depriving themselves
 of calcium and other essential nutrients.
     The new campaign, which kicks off today with an appearance by Paul Pierce
 and Walter McCarty at a Nutrition Fair at the Sarah Greenwood School in
 Dorchester, will feature radio spots by Paul Pierce.  In addition, Boston
 Public School students will receive colorful book covers, a healthy snack
 guide and pledge card, posters, and wallet cards that provide information on
 lactose intolerance and healthy eating.  Middle school students who take a
 healthy eating pledge will be eligible to win a special school visit from Paul
     Parents, school nurses, and food service professionals have also received
 informational literature developed by HP Hood in consultation with the Boston
 Public Schools.
     "We know it's vital for children to eat right and stay fit, and it's
 wonderful that the public and private sectors have come together to launch
 this important health initiative," said Mayor Thomas Menino.
     "We know there is a nutrition crisis among kids," said David Mulligan,
 chairman of the Boston Public Health Commission. "According to USDA studies,
 only 4 in 10 children eat enough calcium-rich foods. If milk gives you a
 stomachache, you're not going to drink it.  That's why we're very excited
 about this new program to educate the community about lactose maldigestion.
 We hope that this program will ensure that any child who has trouble digesting
 regular milk will choose lactose-free, Lactaid milk and other calcium-rich
     Boston is believed to be the first city in the country to address lactose
 intolerance in a systematic way. "This program should serve as a model for
 other cities and towns who want to improve the health and nutrition of
 children in their schools," Mulligan added.
     While other foods supply calcium, it is difficult for most people --
 especially children -- to eat the amounts of those foods necessary to get
 enough calcium. "Vegetables like broccoli do contain calcium, but most of the
 calcium is in a form that cannot be absorbed by the body," explained Debra
 Korzec-Ramirez, M.S., R.D., nutrition education coordinator of the Boston
 Public Schools.  "And milk provides vitamin D, protein, phosphorus, and other
 bone-building nutrients that other foods don't."
     HP Hood President, Chairman and CEO John Kaneb has a personal interest in
 the subject, because two of his grandchildren have difficulty digesting
 lactose. "When HP Hood was named the milk supplier to the Boston Public
 Schools in 2000-2002, we made a commitment to work with the schools and the
 city to help address this issue among students," said Kaneb.  "We have learned
 that many families and many children were unaware of the availability of
 lactose-free milk in schools and the importance of consuming calcium-rich
 foods. This campaign is designed to provide information about these important
 health and nutrition issues in ways that kids will understand."
     To increase the appeal of lactose-free milk to schoolchildren and remove
 any reluctance to drink a "different" kind of milk, Hood, with input from
 Boston school children, designed two new eight-ounce Lactaid Milk containers
 that feature bright colors and a "cool cow" in sunglasses. The two new
 varieties - low fat chocolate and low fat white Lactaid milk - offer maximum
 taste appeal to children while supplying just as much calcium, protein, and
 vitamins and minerals as regular milk.
     "As an athlete, I know how important eating right and staying fit is,"
 said Paul Pierce. "I also know that lactose intolerance is a concern for many,
 particularly African-Americans and other ethnic minorities. I've become
 particularly aware of this because my friend and teammate, Walter McCarty, is
 lactose intolerant. We're very enthusiastic about getting the word out to
 Boston kids about this important issue."
     Walter McCarty noted that many young people assume they need to stay away
 from dairy products if they have trouble digesting lactose. "By eliminating
 milk and other dairy foods from their diets, kids are missing out on the
 nutrition their growing bodies need to develop right and stay healthy-not to
 mention the enjoyment of eating those foods," he said. "I'm excited about
 talking to kids first-hand about this issue."
     Lactose-free Lactaid Milk, manufactured by HP Hood for McNeil Consumer
 Healthcare, a Johnson & Johnson company, is farm-fresh milk that contains all
 of the same nutrients as regular milk, including calcium, phosphorus, protein
 and vitamin D.  However, Lactaid contains a lactase enzyme that breaks down
 the lactose so the milk can be more easily digested.
     Founded in 1846 by Harvey Perley Hood, HP Hood, Inc., is the Northeast's
 premier processor, marketer, and distributor of dairy, extended shelf life
 dairy, frozen desserts, citrus, non-dairy, and specialty food products.  The
 John A. Kaneb family, principals of the Catamount Companies headquartered in
 Chelsea, Massachusetts, became the third owners of HP Hood when they acquired
 the company from Agway, Inc. in December of 1995.