Calcium not linked to weight gain, study

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dairy, Nutrition, Milk

Calcium does not make consumers put on weight, finds a recent
survey of 19,000 men, as a report in the UK warns many people are
confused about the health benefits of milk.

Calcium intake, from both diet and supplements, was not linked to weight gain in the men, all aged between 40 and 75 years, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Researchers, backed by the US National Dairy Council, studied the effect of calcium on men following normal diets over a 12-year period.

The findings were consistent with health authorities' 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend three servings of low-fat dairy foods every day.

And, the study is extra ammunition in the on-going debate about the connection between dairy and weight loss.

Several studies have indicated no link between high dairy intake (three-four servings daily) and weight gain, while some have even suggested this may help with weight loss as part of a low-calorie diet.

Others have been less clear. A study of 12,000 children aged 9-14 revealed that dietary calcium and skimmed milk were linked to weight gain, yet dairy fat was not.

There has been constant wrangling in public in both the UK and US over which side of the healthy eating divide dairy products should fall.

The result has been consumer confusion, according to a new report on the future of the UK dairy industry, published by the Milk Development Council and Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

"The image of milk is not as good as it could be,"​ the report says, adding "misperceptions about fat levels and ignorance of the benefits leads to difficulties with launching innovative dairy products"​.

It recommends the UK Dairy Council survey attitudes to dairy among public 'influencers' like health professional and nutritionists. Some work has already begun on this.

Jim Knight, under-secretary of state at DEFRA, said in the UK Parliament recently that the government had a role to play in promoting milk consumption among Britain's children. He said skimmed or semi-skimmed milk was "recognised as a valuable component of a balanced diet and a healthier alternative to soft drinks"​.

A survey last year found that between 70 and 80 per cent of British children aged 11-18 years were consuming less than the recommended daily intake of calcium.

Related topics: R&D

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