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Food Nutr Bull. 2008 Sep;29(3):172-85.

Worldwide trends in dairy production and consumption and calcium intake: is promoting consumption of dairy products a sustainable solution for inadequate calcium intake?

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Center for Human Nutrition, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 North Wolfe St., Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.



Adequate calcium intake is critical for good health. Inadequate calcium intake is a worldwide problem and is more serious in countries where consumption of dairy products is low.


To analyze worldwide trends in production and consumption of dairy products and in calcium intake.


Data were taken from Food and Agriculture Organization food balance sheets, from published studies, and from surveys of four countries with large populations and large dairy production (China, India, the United States, and Russia). Linear regression models were fitted to estimate average annual changes and to project future trends.


Overall global dairy production and supply (total and per capita) have increased since 1980, especially in developing countries. There are large between-region and between-country differences in the levels of production, supply, and consumption and in the trends. In 1997 India surpassed the United States to become the largest dairy producer. Consumption of dairy products in China has more than tripled since 1982 and has increased sevenfold among urban residents. The increase has been more dramatic during recent years. In spite of increases in dairy production and consumption in China and India, calcium intake has decreased in these countries. The average daily per capita consumption of dairy products was more than 200 g in the United States in 1999-2004 but less than 27g in China in 2002; the average daily per capita intake of calcium was 962 mg in US men and 756 mg in US women in 1999-2004, but less than 400 mg in China in 2002.


Global production and supply of dairy products have been increasing since 1980, which has an impact on the environment. Dairy consumption and calcium intake remain low in most countries examined as compared with recommended amounts of dairy products and calcium. Promotion of consumption of dairy products does not necessarily increase total calcium intake.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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