Calcium Intake Over the Years is Inversely Related to Children’s Body Fat

A report published in the December 2003 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that increased calcium intake over time is correlated with a lower body fat index in children.

The study included twenty-five boys and twenty-seven girls from the age of two months to eight years. Information concerning height, weight, dietary intake and other factors was obtained via twenty in-home interviews over the course of the study. At age eight, body fat and body fat percentage was assessed by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry .

Total dietary fat consumed, saturated fat intake, being female and increased sedentary activities were all associated with higher body fat percentages. Polyunsaturated fat and calcium intake were both inversely related to percent body fat. Girls, whose calcium intake was less than that of boys, had a higher percentage of body fat at 26.2 percent, compared to 22.7 percent in the boys in this study.

The incidence of obesity among children and adults is increasing at an alarming rate in the U.S. and many other countries. Recent studies have found that calcium plays a role in modulating body fat, among its many other vital functions in the body. The replacement of calcium-rich dairy products with sugar-rich soft drinks may be in part responsible for the inadequate calcium intake found in some children. According to the study’s findings, if children increased their calcium intake by drinking one glass of skim milk they could expect to reduce body fat by 0.4%. The findings that total and saturated fat intake were positively related to percent body fat makes it essential that sources of calcium that are low in fat be consumed. In addition to nonfat dairy products, soy, broccoli and calcium supplements are good lowfat sources.

Source: Life Extension Foundation (LEF), online at www.lef.org.

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