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J Am Coll Nutr. 1995 Aug;14(4):336-40.

Factors influencing dairy calcium intake in women.

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  • 1University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, USA.



Most national dietary studies have reported inadequate calcium (Ca) intake by women, indicating that marketing and educational efforts have not effected dietary behavior changes. The purpose of this study was to identify knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors which influence dairy Ca intake.


A questionnaire was developed to accomplish these objectives, and piloted for clarity and content validity. Dietary Ca intake was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire. After revisions, women were sampled from four sources: a health spa, elderhostel classes, through a Cooperative Extension Service program, and from the Illinois Older Women's League. The response rate was 66.5%.


Mean total reported Ca intake (n = 351) was 591 +/- 355 mg/day. Over 40% of the women reported Ca intakes below 60% of the RDA and could therefore be considered to have deficient intake. Unfortunately, 27.1% of these with deficient intake believed they were meeting the Ca RDA. Significant differences (p < or = 0.01) were found in attitudes and beliefs about dairy Ca when comparing women whose intake was below 60% of the RDA with those whose intake was above 60%. The most commonly mentioned beliefs of the entire sample concerned cholesterol (16.5%), high calories (13.7%) and gastrointestinal discomfort (12.8%).


These findings suggest an important discrepancy between perceived and actual Ca intake which could influence receptiveness to education. Non-dairy Ca rich food sources need to be clarified as does the caloric and cholesterol content of dairy foods.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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