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Highlights of the September Journal of the American Dietetic Association

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Do Calcium-Rich Diets Make a Difference for Girls' Weight?

Compared with girls who maintain their usual diets, 9-year-old girls who eat a diet rich in calcium (at least 1,500 milligrams per day) also significantly increase their intake of other essential nutrients, according to a pilot study of 59 girls conducted by researchers at Creighton University. The researchers were trying to determine whether the two groups differed in weight gain.

At least 40 percent of the body's bone mass is formed during adolescence, meaning a lack of calcium during childhood may interfere with growth. Severe deficiencies may keep children from reaching their potential adult height, and even mild deficiencies over a lifetime can affect bone density and bone loss. That in turn increases a person's risk for osteoporosis. Average calcium intake for girls 9 to 13 years old is 69 percent of the recommended level and only 55 percent for girls ages 14 to 18.

The study found that the girls who followed a calcium-rich diet, including dairy foods and calcium-fortified foods, did not experience greater increases in body weight or body mass index compared with girls on their usual diet.

According to the researchers, girls who consumed the calcium-rich diet "significantly improved their overall nutritional intake" during the two-year study, increasing their consumption of protein, vitamins A and D, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, in addition to calcium. The girls on their usual diets increased their consumption only of iron and zinc.

"These findings along with emerging evidence regarding dietary calcium and weight in adults can be used to assure children, parents, health professionals, and policymakers that calcium-rich diets do not increase the risk of excessive weight gain," according to the researchers.


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Contact: Kelly Liebbe
media@eatright.org
American Dietetic Association
31-Aug-2004


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