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PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e27703. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027703. Epub 2011 Dec 7.

Dietary calcium but not elemental calcium from supplements is associated with body composition and obesity in Chinese women.

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Department of Nutrition and Food Hygiene, School of Public Health, Harbin Medical University, Harbin, People's Republic of China.



We assessed whether dietary calcium intake or calcium supplements associated with body composition and obesity in a Chinese population.


A cross-sectional survey was performed in a population of 8940, aged 20 to 74 y. 8127 participants responded (90.9%). Height, weight, fat mass (FM), waist circumference (WC) and hip circumference were measured. Obesity definition: body mass index (BMI) ≥28 kg/m(2) (overall obesity); WC ≥85 cm for men or ≥80 cm for women (abdominal obesity І) and waist hip ratio (WHR) ≥0.90 for men or ≥0.85 for women (abdominal obesity П). The data on dietary calcium and calcium supplements were collected using food-frequency questionnaire and self-report questionnaire. Multivariate linear and multivariable logistic regressions were used to examine the associations between dietary calcium intake or calcium supplements and body composition and obesity.


The average dietary calcium intake of all subjects was 430 mg/d. After adjusting for potential confounding factors, among women only, negative associations were observed between habitual dietary calcium intake and four measures of body composition (β, -0.086, P<0.001 for BMI; β, -0.072, P<0.001 for WC; β, -0.044, P<0.05 for WHR; and β, -0.058, P<0.01 for FM, respectively) and both measures of abdominal obesity (Odds Ratio [OR] = 0.86, 95% Confidence Interval [CI], 0.80-0.93; P<0.001, for abdominal obesity I; OR = 0.92, 95% CI, 0.86-0.99; P = 0.026, for abdominal obesity II). These associations were not observed among men (P>0.05). Similarly, among both men and women, we did not observe significant associations between calcium supplements and any measures of body composition or abdominal obesity (P>0.05).


Dietary calcium from food rather than elemental calcium from calcium supplements has beneficial effects on the maintenance of body composition and preventing abdominal obesity in Chinese women.

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