Objective: To determine if dietary calcium was negatively related to children's body fat (BF), if BF indexes and calcium intakes changed over time, and to identify variables related to BF and calcium intake.
Design: Percent BF and kg BF were assessed by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) in 8-year-old children. In a prospective design, height, weight, dietary intakes, and related variables were monitored longitudinally from ages 2 months to 8 years during in-home interviews.
Subjects: Fifty-two white children, (n=25 boys, 27 girls) participated in a longitudinal study with their mothers. At 8 years of age, mean BMI was 17.3+/-2.1 (standard deviation) for boys and 17.1+/-2.5 for girls.
Analyses: Regression analysis of all variables, followed by further regression analysis on selected models.
Results: At 8 years, percent BF was 22.7+/-6.7 for boys and 26.2+/-7.9 for girls, as assessed by DEXA. Dietary calcium (mg) and polyunsaturated fat intake (g) were negatively related to percent BF (P=.02 to.04) in 3 statistical models, which predicted 28% to 34% of the variability in BF among children. Variables positively associated with percent BF were total dietary fat (g) or saturated fat (g), female gender, sedentary activity (hours/day), father's BMI, and mothers' percent BF. Calcium intakes were significantly correlated over time. Dietary variety was positively related to calcium intake, and intakes of carbonated beverages and other sweetened beverages were negatively related.
Applications/conclusions: Children should be strongly encouraged to regularly include calcium-rich foods and beverages in their diets.