Milk and dairy does not make kids fat

Monday, 28th May 2018, 9:08 am
Updated Monday, 28th May 2018, 10:21 am

Yogurts, cheese, milk and butter do not make kids fat, 27 years of research confirmed.

The theory milk and dairy products caused children to pile on the pounds and increased appetite had no "underlying mechanistic rationale," French experts said.

They added the results should reassure parents that diary does not lead to obesity.

However they warned more research was needed on trendy alternatives to diary such as soya or almond and rice milk and their impact on childhood obesity.

Researcher in Nutrition Dr Anestis Dougkas, from Institut Paul Bocuse in Ecully, Lyon explained: "Existing reviews suggest that milk and dairy products do not play a role in the development of obesity in childhood, but they do make an important contribution to children's nutrient intake.

"It is thus curious that public health advice on the consumption of milk and dairyproducts for children is often perceived as unclear."

So researchers carried out a comprehensive review analysing data from 43 cross sectional studies, 32 longitudinal cohort studies, and 20 randomised trials.

The data examined the effects of both full and low fat milk and other dairy products on obesity in childhood between January 1990 and June 2017.

Researchers analysed 95 trials involving 203,269 children which showed that milk and dairy products were not associated with body fatness in children.

Previous reviews have shown that milk and dairy are not associated with childhood obesity - but whether milk and dairy promote obesity in children continues to be hotly debated.

Essential nutrients

Researchers maintained that milk, yogurt, and cheese are nutrient rich foods which provide many essential nutrients throughout life.

They also examined the possible mechanisms underlying the effect of different milk and dairy products on body-weight regulation.

Data showed no evidence to suggest that body fatness varied by type of milk or dairy products, or with age of the children.

Dr Dougkas said: "An important finding was the consistency of findings across different types of milk and dairy products and age groups.

"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."

Only nine studies found a positive association between milk and dairy products and body fatness.

Dr Dougkas said: "There is no harmful effect on obesity from incorporating dairy and especially milk in the diet of children and adolescents.

Restrictions

"These results call into question current recommendations that restrict consumption of milk and dairy products.

"In conclusion, there is no foundation for any concern to limit the consumption ofmilk and dairy products for children on the grounds that they may promote obesity.

"Furthermore, the existing evidence shows that there is no underlying mechanistic rationale to support the hypothesis that milk and dairy products promote excess weight gain, or increase appetite.

"Further research is needed to better understand the role of different milks anddifferent dairy products in childhood obesity.

"The new and emerging range of products (including plant-base alternatives being used as dairy milk substitutes) have yet to be evaluated in scientific studies."

Researchers hope that the study results can be used to update existing nutritional guidelines around milk and dairy consumption in children.

However, researchers acknowledged a lack of current data in children aged one to five years old.

The study findings was presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity in Vienna.