Nutrition & metabolism

A high calcium diet containing nonfat dry milk reduces weight gain and associated adipose tissue inflammation in diet-induced obese mice when compared to high calcium alone.

PMID 22269778


High dietary calcium (Ca) is reported to have anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory properties. Evidence for these properties of dietary Ca in animal models of polygenic obesity have been confounded by the inclusion of dairy food components in experimental diets; thus, effect of Ca per se could not be deciphered. Furthermore, potential anti-inflammatory actions of Ca in vivo could not be dissociated from reduced adiposity. We characterized adiposity along with metabolic and inflammatory phenotypes in diet-induced obese (DIO) mice fed 1 of 3 high fat diets (45% energy) for 12 wk: control (n = 29), high-Ca (n = 30), or high-Ca + nonfat dry milk (NFDM) (n = 30). Mice fed high-Ca + NFDM had reduced body weight and adiposity compared to high-Ca mice (P < 0.001). Surprisingly, the high-Ca mice had increased adiposity compared to lower-Ca controls (P < 0.001). Hyperphagia and increased feed efficiency contributed to obesity development in high-Ca mice, in contrast to NFDM mice that displayed significantly reduced weight gain despite higher energy intake compared to controls (P < 0.001). mRNA markers of macrophages (e.g., CD68, CD11d) strongly correlated with body weight in all diet treatment groups, and most treatment differences in WAT inflammatory factor mRNA abundances were lost when controlling for body weight gain as a covariate. The results indicate that high dietary Ca is not sufficient to dampen obesity-related phenotypes in DIO mice, and in fact exacerbates weight gain and hyperphagia. The data further suggest that putative anti-obesity properties of dairy emanate from food components beyond Ca.

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