New research suggests that increasing dairy consumption from three to five servings a day in the context of a reduced calorie diet can help fight obesity.
Researchers at the New Curtin University of Technology in Australia conducted a 12-week trial to study the impact of eating more cheese, yoghurt and low fat milk on weight levels.
During the study period participants ate a low calorie diet that reduced their total energy intake to below normal requirements. At the end of the 12 weeks the researchers found that those people who ate five servings a day instead of the normally recommended three servings lost more weight. In addition improvements in the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes were recorded.
Those eating more dairy products benefited from higher mean levels of weight loss, high mean levels of fat mass loss, greater drop of fat mass loss, and greater total percentage abdominal fat loss.
Dr Wendy Chan She Ping Delfos, who conducted the study with Associate Professor Mario Soares as part of her PhD research, identified the nutrients in dairy products responsible for the positive health effects.
“Increasing dairy intake to five serves per day as part of a reduced calorie diet has never been studied before, and such diets containing high levels of protein, calcium and vitamin D, among other bioactive nutrients, can be an important part of a prudent weight loss or weight maintenance diet,” said Dr Chan She Ping Delfos.
With obesity rates on the rise, the relationship between dairy and weight management has come under scrutiny. The high fat content in cheese, cream and other dairy products have prompted some nutritionists to link dairy to weight gain. But this research, which was funded by the ATN Centre for Metabolic Fitness and Diabetes in Australia, builds on other recent studies suggesting that the opposite may be true.
Writing in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition earlier this year, Marta Van Loan from the USDA Agriculture Research Service at the University of California said: “Today, the preponderance of scientific evidence supports the beneficial role of dairy foods in weight management.”