Date of Award

Summer 8-9-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Ike S Okosun

Second Advisor

Michael Eriksen

Abstract

Background: Calcium is important to various aspects of health and is necessary for life. Inadequate calcium intake has serious consequence on health, such as osteoporosis, impaired muscle and nerve functions and obesity. Similarly, excessive intake is associated with cardiovascular risks and urinary tract stone formation. Therefore a balanced calcium intake is of utmost importance especially knowing that maximum calcium storage potential in bones is reached roughly in late 20s of age and starts gradually declining thereafter.

Objective: The objective of this study is to explore calcium intake patterns in the United States population in association with a number of selected demographic and Socio Economic Status-associated factors.

Methods: The 2009–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data, obtained from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), was used for this investigation. This study is a cross-sectional study using a sample of 8,675 respondents (N= 8,675) within the age range of 2-69 years. A number of demographic and SES-related factors were analyzed on three consecutive stages by Univariate and Multivariate Linear Regressions on the estimated daily calcium intake of respondents.

Results: Calcium intake was demonstrated to be associated with a number of the variables included in this study. Of these, the statistically significant associations (P-Value <0.01) included Gender, Age, Race/ Ethnicity and Education. In addition, for some of the respondents within this study coverage by Medicaid or by Private Health Insurance also had some association with calcium intake levels.

Conclusions: The estimated daily calcium intake levels were higher among white, older females in the study population and were lower among the youngest age groups and respondents with the lowest levels of education among the oldest population. They were also lower among Non-White population in general. Coverage by Medicaid is associated with lower calcium intake levels among young children (4-8 years of age).Conversely, coverage by private health insurance was associated with higher levels of calcium intake among female respondents. Further studies are needed to assess the reasons for these patterns and to identify public health measures that can be taken to improve calcium intake levels in the Non-white population (especially those at the extremes of age range), the younger population, and people with lower levels of education.

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