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The role of dietary calcium and other nutrients in moderating body fat in preschool children


OBJECTIVE: To assess preschool children's food consumption (24–60 months) and relate these findings to body composition at 70±2 months.

DESIGN: A longitudinal study of children's dietary intakes for selected nutrients and servings of dairy products.

SUBJECTS: Fifty-three white children participating in a longitudinal study (2–96 months) of children's food practices and growth.

MEASUREMENTS: Using in-home interviews and trained interviewers, 18 days of dietary data and measured height and weight of each child at 6 month intervals were collected. Body composition was determined by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry.

RESULTS: Dietary fat was 30–33% of energy with saturated and monounsaturated fat intakes>10% and polyunsaturated<10%. Adjusting for body mass index (BMI), GLM models to predict percent body fat (%BF) or grams of total fat (gTF) with mean longitudinal calcium intake (%BF: R2=0.51, F=7.88, P<0.0001; gTF: R2=0.51, F=9.84, P=0.0001) or total servings of dairy products (%BF: R2=0.47, F=6.93, P<0.0001; gTF: R2=0.47, F=8.31, P<0.0001) as independent variables gave significant results. Higher mean longitudinal calcium (mg/day) intakes and more servings/day of dairy products were associated with lower body fat. Males had significantly less body fat (P=0.01) than females.

CONCLUSIONS: Higher longitudinal intakes of calcium, monounsaturated fat, and servings of dairy products were associated with lower body fat.

International Journal of Obesity (2001) 25, 559–566

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Initial data collection for this paper was funded by Gerber Products Company, Fremont, MI as part of a longitudinal study. Funding was also provided by the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station, Knoxville, TN.

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Correspondence to BR Carruth.

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An abstract was published in FASEB J, 1999: A596, 461.10

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Carruth, B., Skinner, J. The role of dietary calcium and other nutrients in moderating body fat in preschool children. Int J Obes 25, 559–566 (2001).

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  • calcium
  • preschool children
  • dietary fat
  • body fat
  • milk/dairy foods

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