Low Calcium & Obesity Link

Very interesting news via the Vancouver Sun -

Low calcium intake is a risk factor for continued obesity, but it can be addressed by boosting consumption of calcium or dairy, according to a Canadian study published recently in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

The team of researchers, led by Angelo Tremblay of Laval University in Quebec, found that increasing calcium or dairy consumption accentuates the impact of a weight loss program.

Tremblay warns this only applies to obese people who are low calcium consumers — meaning they take less than 600 mg of the mineral daily.

“For those with satisfactory intake of calcium, we see no impact,” he said in an interview Thursday.

The recommended daily intake of calcium, according to the Canada Food Guide, is two servings of dairy products, which amount to 1,200 mg of calcium.

Tremblay’s research, published with co-author Jo-Anne Gilbert in the latest edition of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, stems from a clinical trial conducted on a group of 25 obese women following a weight-loss program for six months.

Half of them were told to drink two cups of milk each day, while the other half was given a rice milk with the same caloric content but no calcium, nor vitamin D.

At the end of the clinical trial, the group that had boosted its calcium intake with milk had lost an average of 8 kg (17.6 pounds) compared to 5 kg (11 pounds) for those who drank rice milk.

“This issue is important for nutrition specialists because fat loss generally increases hunger and desire to eat, said Tremblay.

“But with the group who drank milk, we observed the opposite. This means that milk supplementation was facilitating appetite control in the context of weight loss in these women,” he added.

Tremblay, a leading expert on obesity and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Environment and Energy Balance, had published a similar study in 2009 but with calcium supplements of 1,200 mg of calcium instead of milk. The results obtained then were in line with what his team observed with the milk supplement.

“Consuming sufficient calcium favours a decrease in energy intake and helps control the appetite during a weight-loss program,” he said.

Tremblay and his team have studied the link between calcium and obesity for several years and he noted that in the hierarchy of factors that predispose individuals to obesity, low calcium consumption comes before low physical activity, high fat diet and alcohol consumption.

As mentioned before, I wrestle with the “dairy” question – and have for a while now.  But, I also know that Weight Watchers recommends dairy consumption twice per day as one of their good health guidelines.  So, maybe there is something to this?

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