Does Dairy Promote Fat Loss?

High calcium and dairy food intake are linked to lower bodyweight and total fat. This association is highly controversial, but it has prompted many people to eat more dairy products. In a review of literature, Angelo Tremblay and colleagues from Laval University in Quebec, Canada, concluded that calcium and dairy food intake influence weight loss, particularly during calorie-restricted diets. He made several observations:

  • Most people do not consume the recommended amount of calcium in their diets. Conversely, high-sugar soft drink consumption has increased 300 percent in the last 10 years.
  • Several large, well-controlled studies showed that low calcium and dairy intake are linked to increased body fat and adults.
  • Low-calcium intake is an excellent predictor of excess body fat and weight in children.
  • Low-calcium consumers lose weight when they supplement dairy foods and calcium.
  • During calorie-restricted diets, consuming dairy foods preserves muscle mass.
  • Inadequate calcium intake increases the risk of the Metabolic Syndrome, which includes symptoms such as high blood pressure, insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, inflammation, abnormal blood fats and blood-clotting abnormalities.
  • Calcium supplements improve blood fat profiles and decrease abdominal fat deposition.
  • Increased calcium intake promotes fat cell death.
  • High calcium intake increases levels of uncoupling proteins in cells, which increase the rate that the body burns calories.
  • High calcium intake increases fat excretion in the feces and increases post-meal fat use.
  • Inadequate calcium intake promotes hunger.
  • Dairy products contain high-quality proteins that help suppress appetite.


They concluded that we need more long-term studies to determine the role of dairy products in promoting weight control, but that most data support the value of these foods in fighting fat.

 Source: Obesity Reviews, 9: 428-445, 2008

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