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Effect of short-term high dietary calcium intake on 24-h energy expenditure, fat oxidation, and fecal fat excretion



Observational studies have shown an inverse association between dietary calcium intake and body weight, and a causal relation is likely. However, the underlying mechanisms are not understood.


We examined whether high and low calcium intakes from mainly low-fat dairy products, in diets high or normal in protein content, have effects on 24-h energy expenditure (EE) and substrate oxidation, fecal energy and fat excretion, and concentrations of substrates and hormones involved in energy metabolism and appetite.


In all, 10 subjects participated in a randomized crossover study of three isocaloric 1-week diets with: low calcium and normal protein (LC/NP: 500 mg calcium, 15% of energy (E%) from protein), high calcium and normal protein (HC/NP: 1800 mg calcium, 15E% protein), and high calcium and high protein (HC/HP: 1800 mg calcium, 23E% protein).


The calcium intake had no effect on 24-h EE or fat oxidation, but fecal fat excretion increased 2.5-fold during the HC/NP diet compared with the LC/NP and the HC/HP diets (14.2 vs 6.0 and 5.9 g/day; P<0.05). The HC/NP diet also increased fecal energy excretion as compared with the LC/NP and the HC/HP diets (1045 vs 684 and 668 kJ/day; P<0.05). There were no effects on blood cholesterol, free fatty acids, triacylglycerol, insulin, leptin, or thyroid hormones.


A short-term increase in dietary calcium intake, together with a normal protein intake, increased fecal fat and energy excretion by 350 kJ/day. This observation may contribute to explain why a high-calcium diet produces weight loss, and it suggests that an interaction with dietary protein level may be important.

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We thank John Lind, Inge Timmermann, Helle R Christensen, Kirsten B Rasmussen, Martin Kreutzer, Charlotte Kostecki, Yvonne Rasmussen, and Karina G Rossen for their assistance. This work was financially supported by the Danish Dairy Board, Aarhus, Denmark and The Directorate for Food, Fisheries and Argi Business, the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Correspondence to A Astrup.

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Jacobsen, R., Lorenzen, J., Toubro, S. et al. Effect of short-term high dietary calcium intake on 24-h energy expenditure, fat oxidation, and fecal fat excretion. Int J Obes 29, 292–301 (2005).

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  • dietary calcium
  • energy expenditure
  • fecal fat excretion
  • fat oxidation
  • body weight

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