Table 1.

Human Studies of Calcium and Weight

AuthorType of StudyPopulationResults
Zemel et al10Reanalysis of NHANES III data set380 womenRR of being in the highest quartile for body fat was reduced as calcium intake increased. RR in second quartile of Ca2+ intake was 0.75, in third RR quartile was 0.40, and in highest quartile of Ca2+ intake RR was 0.16 (P < .0009 for women, P < .0006 for men)
(SORT C)7114 men
Davies et al13Reanalysis of 5 clinical studies (2 cross-sectional, 2 longitudinal, 1 RCT) of calcium and bone densityTotal sample size among all studies: 780 women in 3rd, 5th, 8th decadesNegative associations between calcium and body weight found in all studies for all 3 age groups. OR for being overweight (BMI >26) was 2.25 for young women who were in the lower half of calcium intakes. In RCT, calcium-treated women had significant weight loss over 4 years. Authors estimate that a 1000-mg difference in calcium intake may be responsible for an 8-kg difference in body weight.
Heaney et al11Extension of reanalysis of above studiesYoung women (3rd decade) n = 348Young women: at 25% for calcium intake, there was a 15% prevalence of overweight and a 1.4% prevalence of obesity. At a calcium intake equal to the current RDA, the prevalence of overweight was only 4% and obesity 0.2%. In midlife women, there was a significant decrease in yearly weight gain with increasing calcium intakes.
Midlife women (5th decade) n = 216
Skinner et al14Prospective cohort study examining children’s body fat and calcium intake from 2 months old to 8 years old52 white child-mother pairs completed entire study (25 boys, 27 girls)Dietary calcium was negatively related to body fat percentage in both boys and girls (P = .02 to 0.04). Models including dietary calcium predicted 28% to 34% of variability in body fat percentage.
Drapeau et al15Prospective cohort study (Quebec Family Study) measured twice (between 1989 and 1994 and also between 1995 and 2000)248 volunteers between 18 and 65 years old (112 men, 136 women)Increases in consumption of fruit and lowfat milk were associated with lower body fat and lower body weight.
Loos et al16Cross-sectional study within a larger prospective cohort study (the HERITAGE Family Study)362 men (109 black, 253 white) and 462 women (201 black, and 261 white)Significant inverse associations were found for all men and white women between calcium intake and percentage of body fat. There was no significant association seen in black women.
Zemel et al17Randomized, placebo-controlled trial for 24 weeks.32 obese adults (27 women, 5 men)All subjects were placed on a calorie-deficient diet. Then participants were randomized to 1 of 3 arms: standard diet, 400 to 500 mg calcium with a placebo; high-calcium diet, standard diet supplemented with 800 mg of calcium; and high-dairy diet, 1200 to 1300 mg of dietary calcium with placebo supplemented. Participants on the high-dairy diet lost the most weight and the most truncal fat. The participants on the high calcium diet lost the second highest amount and the participants on the standard diet lost the least amount.
(SORT B, RCT but small sample size)
Shapses et al18Randomized placebo-controlled trial for 25 weeks. Data combined from 3 separate trials.100 premenopausal and postmenopausal womenSubjects were randomized to receive either 1000 mg of calcium in a supplement or a placebo. Weight loss was encouraged with behavior modification and nutrition education. Women participated in support groups and a subset of postmenopausal women was encouraged to consume one third of their calories with a meal replacement drink. There were no significant differences in body weight or change in body fat between the 2 groups.
(SORT B, RCT with larger sample size, but not powered to detect differences)
  • NHANES III, National Health and Nutrition Examination Study III; RCT, randomized control trial; BMI, body mass index; SORT, strength of recommendation; RDA, recommended daily allowance; OR, odds ratio; RR, resistance ratio.