Purdue Study: Calcium May Curb Weight Gain In Young Women

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue University researchers have come up with yet another reason to "get" milk.

In a two-year study of 54 women ages 18 to 31, the researchers found that higher calcium intakes may reduce overall levels of body fat and slow weight gain for women in this age group.

And women who consume calcium from dairy products, or who consume at least 1,000 milligrams per day, may reap the most benefits.

"Our study is the first to show that, when overall calorie consumption is accounted for, calcium not only helps keep weight in check, but can be associated specifically with decreases in body fat," says Dorothy Teegarden, assistant professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue.

She presented her findings Tuesday (4/20) in Washington at a conference of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

The women in the study were within normal weight ranges and followed no specific diet, Teegarden says. Dietary intake was assessed by diet records, and participants' body composition was measured using a method called dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, which provides measurements of muscle and fat mass of different areas of the body.

The researchers found that the women in the study who consumed less than 1,900 calories per day with a daily calcium intake of at least 780 milligrams, either had no increase in body fat or lost body fat mass over the two-year period. The women who consumed less than 1,900 calories per day but averaged less than 780 milligrams of calcium gained body fat mass over the same period.

"Women who consumed an average of 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day, which is slightly below the recommended daily allowance for this age group, showed an overall decrease in body weight as high as six to seven pounds," Teegarden says.

The study showed that exercisers and non-exercisers benefited equally from high calcium intakes, but that women who consumed more than 1,900 calories per

Contact: Susan Gaidos
Purdue University

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