Calcium Intake Is Inversely Related to Risk of Obesity among American Young Adults over a 30-Year Follow-Up

Liping Lu, Cheng Chen, Jie Zhu, Wenjing Tang, David R. Jacobs, James M. Shikany, Ka Kahe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Calcium (Ca) is an essential nutrient that may play an important role in weight maintenance through its involvement in energy or lipid metabolism. However, little is known about the long-term associations of Ca intake with obesity risk.

OBJECTIVES: We aimed to prospectively examine the association between cumulative Ca intake and the incidence of obesity among American young adults over 30 y of follow-up.

METHODS: Participants were from the CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) study. A total of 4097 of 5115 black and white individuals aged 18-30 y at baseline in 1985-1986 were included in the current analysis. Dietary and supplemental Ca intake was assessed by the validated interview-based CARDIA diet history at baseline and exam years 7 and 20. Incident cases of obesity were identified when BMI was ≥30 kg/m2 for the first time since baseline. A survival analysis was performed using Cox proportional hazards regression models to estimate the HRs and corresponding 95% CIs for obesity incidence during follow-up.

RESULTS: During a 30-y follow-up (mean ± SD: 20 ± 10 y), 1675 participants developed obesity. Cumulative total Ca intake (dietary plus supplemental Ca) was inversely associated with incidence of obesity in multivariable-adjusted analysis [quintile (Q)5 (highest intake) compared with Q1 (lowest intake): HR: 0.68; 95% CI: 0.56, 0.82; P-trend < 0.01]. This inverse association persisted among Ca supplement users (Q5 compared with Q1: HR: 0.53; 95% CI: 0.40, 0.70; P-trend < 0.01), but was not seen among nonusers.

CONCLUSIONS: Following a cohort of Americans from young adulthood to midlife, an inverse association between calcium intake and obesity incidence was observed. Further studies are needed to confirm our findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2383-2389
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by NIH grants R01HL081572 (to KK) and R01DK116603 (to KK). The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study is supported by grants from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in collaboration with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (HHSN268201800005I and HHSN268201800007I), Northwestern University (HHSN268201800003I), University of Minnesota (HHSN268201800006I), and Kaiser Foundation Research Institute (HHSN26820100004I). Representatives of the funding agency have been involved in the review of the manuscript but not directly involved in the collection, management, analysis, or interpretation of the data.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


  • CARDIA cohort
  • calcium
  • diet
  • obesity
  • supplement


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