Effects of Calcium on Weight Maintenance among Middle-Aged Adults
Increased total calcium intake in the form of supplements can help middle-aged adults maintain their weight over a number of years, with particular benefits to women, according to researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
The study looked at relationships between calcium and weight change over an eight-to-12-year period among more than 10,000 men and women in their mid-50s. Previous studies have found connections between calcium intake and people's body mass index, but those studies focused on calcium in food, not supplements, according to the researchers.
The study examined people's intakes of dietary calcium, supplemental calcium and total calcium (supplements plus diet) to discover which forms of calcium were associated with weight change. The researchers found "dietary calcium alone had no significant effect on 10-year weight change," but that women who took calcium supplements saw some improvement.
"Although more evidence from randomized clinical trials is needed before calcium supplements can be recommended specifically for weight loss, this study suggests that calcium supplements taken for other reasons (e.g., prevention of osteoporosis) may have a small beneficial influence on reducing weight gain, particularly among women approaching midlife."
Education Level May Determine Sources of Nutrition Information for Older Adults
Less-educated older adults – defined as those whose formal education ended prior to completing four years of college – are more likely to rely upon their doctor, television and neighbors for nutrition information than people who have completed at least four years of college, according to researchers from the USDA Human Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.
In a survey of 176 people over age 50, the researchers compared respondents' specific sources of nutrition information with their education levels. According to the researchers: "Education level, more than any other socioeconomic factor, can predict disease risk, health behavior patterns and diet quality. It has been suggested that one reason higher education promotes more healthful diets is that better-educated people may get better nutrition information."
Most participants in the survey said they rely on doctors and newspapers as their top sources of nutrition information, followed by magazines and television. But the number of people with less than a four-year college degree who get their nutrition information from their physician (70.7 percent) was significantly higher than those with four or more years of college (53.8 percent). The same was true for television (57.3 percent versus 41.8 percent, respectively) and neighbors (12.2 percent versus 3.3 percent). Newspapers, magazines and other health professionals were cited as sources of nutrition information by nearly equal numbers of people in each group.
The researchers say it is "particularly worrisome" that less-educated older adults rely so heavily on their doctors for nutrition information because "physicians do not require training in this subject."
In addition, the researchers write: "Older adults are one of the most rapidly expanding segments of our society. Efforts to maintain their quality of health, reduce disease progression and contain health-care costs with dietary intervention are warranted."
Additional research articles in the July Journal of the American Dietetic Association include:
The Journal of the American Dietetic Association is the official research publication of the American Dietetic Association and is the premier peer-reviewed journal in the field of nutrition and dietetics.
With approximately 65,000 members, the American Dietetic Association is the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA serves the public by promoting optimal nutrition, health and well-being. To locate a registered dietitian in your area, visit the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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