Milk and dairy do not contribute to childhood obesity says new review

Milk and dairy can be enjoyed as part of a child’s healthy diet according to new research, which found that despite concerns there is no link between the products and childhood obesity. — AFP pic
Milk and dairy can be enjoyed as part of a child’s healthy diet according to new research, which found that despite concerns there is no link between the products and childhood obesity. — AFP pic

PARIS, May 26 — New European research has found that milk and dairy products do not contribute to childhood obesity, despite uncertainty over whether the food group could have a negative effect on children’s weight.

Led by Dr Anestis Dougkas from the Institut Paul Bocuse in France, the large-scale review looked at 95 studies from the last 27 years which together involved a total of 203,269 participants.

After analysing the effects of full fat milk, low fat milk, and other dairy products on a child’s risk of obesity, the team found that none of the products played a role in the development of the condition.

Only nine studies included in the review, of which two assessed milk proteins as components of dairy, showed a positive association between milk and dairy products and body fatness.

After looking at the possible mechanisms underlying the effect of milk and dairy products on the body’s ability to regulate weight, they also found no “underlying mechanistic rationale” to support the theory that milk and dairy products promote excess weight gain or increase appetite.

The researchers also failed to find evidence that the age of the children played a role, however they did acknowledge that there was a lack of data for children aged one to five years old.

Despite it being well known that dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese include essential nutrients that are important at any age, some still believe that the food group can promote obesity in children, and public health advice about how much milk and dairy should be included in a child’s diet has remained unclear. 

The new findings now support previous reviews which have also found that milk and dairy are not associated with childhood obesity. 

“An important finding was the consistency of findings across different types of milk and dairy products and age groups,” commented Dr Dougkas. “Our results should alleviate any concerns that parents may have about limiting their children’s consumption of milk and dairy products on the grounds that they might promote obesity.”

The researchers added that, “The new and emerging range of products (including plant-based alternatives being used as dairy milk substitutes) have yet to be evaluated in scientific studies.”

The findings of an American study also released yesterday suggests that eating dairy products could have a positive effect on the health of obese children.

After looking at 353 obese children and adolescents aged 3 to 18 years the researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Centre found that those who consume at least two servings of any type of cow’s milk each day are more likely to have lower fasting insulin than those who consume one or less. Lower fasting insulin indicates better blood sugar control, which can help protect against metabolic syndrome, a condition which can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Both pieces of research are being presented at this year’s European Congress on Obesity (ECO) taking place May 23-26 in Vienna, Austria.  — AFP-Relaxnews

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