International Journal of Obesity (2005) 29, 391–397. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802880 Published online 11 January 2005

Dairy augmentation of total and central fat loss in obese subjects

M B Zemel1, J Richards1, S Mathis2, A Milstead1, L Gebhardt1 and E Silva3

  1. 1Department of Nutrition, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA
  2. 2Childrens Hospital, Knoxville, TN, USA
  3. 3Bell Institute for Health and Nutrition, General Mills Inc., Golden Valley, MN, USA

Correspondence: Dr MB Zemel, Department of Nutrition, The University of Tennessee, 1215 W Cumberland Ave, Room 229, Knoxville, TN 37996-1920, USA. E-mail:

Received 15 July 2004; Revised 29 September 2004; Accepted 30 September 2004; Published online 11 January 2005.



BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: We have previously demonstrated an antiobesity effect of dietary Ca; this is largely mediated by Ca suppression of calcitriol levels, resulting in reduced adipocyte intracellular Ca2+ and, consequently, a coordinated increase in lipid utilization and decrease in lipogenesis. Notably, dairy Ca is markedly more effective than other Ca sources.

DESIGN: Obese subjects were placed on balanced deficit (-500 kcal/day) diets and randomized to control (400–500 mg Ca/day; n=16) or yogurt (1100 mg Ca/day; n=18) treatments for 12 weeks. Dietary macronutrients and fiber were held constant at the US average.

MEASUREMENTS: Body weight, body fat and fat distribution (by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry), blood pressure and circulating lipids were measured at baseline and after 12 weeks of intervention.

RESULTS: Fat loss was markedly increased on the yogurt diet (-4.43plusminus0.47 vs -2.75plusminus0.73 kg in yogurt and control groups; P<0.005) while lean tissue loss was reduced by 31% on the yogurt diet. Trunk fat loss was augmented by 81% on the yogurt vs control diet (P<0.001), and this was reflected in a markedly greater reduction in waist circumference (-3.99plusminus0.48 vs -0.58plusminus1.04 cm, P<0.001). Further, the fraction of fat lost from the trunk was higher on the yogurt diet vs control (P<0.005).

CONCLUSION: Isocaloric substitution of yogurt for other foods significantly augments fat loss and reduces central adiposity during energy restriction.


calcium, dairy, energy restriction, fat loss, yogurt



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