Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Department name when degree awarded

Nutrition and Food Sciences


Heidi J. Wengreen


The present study was conducted with the use of data from the Freshmen Health Study, a longitudinal study of college freshmen aged 18 that examined change in diet, physical activity, and weight during the first year of college at Utah State University (USU). Participants were assessed at different data collection periods including the beginning and end of their first semester attending USU. Participants' height and weight were measured and they were given a self-administered Food Frequency Questionnaire at each data collection. Simple linear and multivariate logistic regression was used to assess how dietary calcium intake related to weight change over a 16-week study period (one semester).

There were 153 (82%) subjects who completed the second data collection during December 2005. The difference in weight between the beginning and end of fall semester was considered the main outcome. Changes in dietary calcium, dairy intake, and milk intake were also assessed as main outcomes. Means and standard deviations were used to describe population characteristics. Analysis of variance (ANOV A) was used to compare means across gender and quartiles of calcium intake. Simple linear regression and logistic regression were used to analyze the relationship between dietary calcium intake and weight change. The multivariate logistic model controlled for gender, physical activity, baseline BMI, and fruit and vegetable intake.

Risk of weight gain was not associated with increasing quartile of dietary calcium intake in either unadjusted or multivariable logistic regression models. Subjects' mean calcium and dairy intake decreased significantly from baseline (p < 0.001). Although the average calcium intake for this population was less than current recommendations set by the FDA, dietary calcium intake did not appear to have any influence on weight change. Dairy and milk intake decreased significantly from high school to college; therefore, specific interventions to increase calcium intake from dairy foods would be appropriate in the adolescent population, especially in college freshmen.