Low-fat Dieting Does Not Reduce Calcium Intake in Women

Dunedin, New Zealand -- A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1997)indicated that women can be on low-fat diets without added risk of inadequate calcium intake.

Diets low in fat calories are commonly recommended for patients with elevated blood cholesterol and obesity in order to reduce their risk of stroke and heart disease.

Dairy products can contain significant amounts of fat calories and their intake could be limited by persons concerned with risk of heart disease. Dairy products, such as milk, also have high calcium content, and provide a major source of calcium which is necessary for healthy bones. Therefore, inadequate calcium intake in women on low-fat diets theoretically could increase their risk of developing the weakened bone of osteoporosis.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1997), Jane Upritchard and associates at the University of Otago in New Zealand studied calcium intake of 247 women, aged 50-65 years, who were on a variety of diets. Their data showed that overall calcium intake was not reduced in those women who were low-fat dieting for reasons of weight or blood cholesterol reduction compared to non-dieters. The women on low-fat diets were able to obtain calcium in amounts equal to their non-dieting counterparts by selecting foods both high in calcium and low in fats, such as low fat milk.

However, another significant finding of the study was a surprisingly low calcium intake overall for all groups of women. The authors noted that "virtually all had an intake below the 1500mg advised by the recent Hong Kong Consensus Conference on Osteoporosis."

It is advised that women select low-fat, calcium-rich foods and follow weight-bearing exercise programs while reducing body weight and cholesterol levels and risk of osteoporosis.

For more information visit the following MedicineNet.com areas:


Last Editorial Review: 7/25/2002