Background: Obesity in the United States has increased significantly during the past several decades. The role of calcium in the maintenance of a healthy body weight remains controversial.
Methods: A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial was performed with 36 282 postmenopausal women, aged 50 to 79 years, who were already enrolled in the dietary modification and/or hormone therapy arms of the Women's Health Initiative clinical trial. Women were randomized at their first or second annual visit to receive a dose of 1000 mg of elemental calcium plus 400 IU of cholecalciferol (vitamin D) or placebo daily. Change in body weight was ascertained annually for an average of 7 years.
Results: Women receiving calcium plus cholecalciferol supplements vs women receiving placebo had a minimal but consistent favorable difference in weight change (mean difference, -0.13 kg; 95% confidence interval, -0.21 to -0.05; P = .001). After 3 years of follow-up, women with daily calcium intakes less than 1200 mg at baseline who were randomized to supplements were 11% less likely to experience small weight gains (1-3 kg) and 11% less likely to gain more moderate amounts of weight (>3 kg) (P for interaction for baseline calcium intake = .008).
Conclusion: Calcium plus cholecalciferol supplementation has a small effect on the prevention of weight gain, which was observed primarily in women who reported inadequate calcium intakes.
Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00000611.