Study asserts role for flavored milk in kids' diets

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition National dairy council

Children who include flavored milk in their diets consume more milk
overall than those who just drink plain milk, says a new study that
suggests such products could help boost nutrient intake.

The study, funded by the National Dairy Council and published in this month's Journal of the American Dietetic Association, set out to assess the nutrient intakes and body measurements of children and adolescents aged between two and 18 years who drank flavored milk (with or without plain milk), plain milk only, and no milk at all. The positive conclusions have been welcomed by the dairy community, and are being regarded as evidence for the helpful role of flavored milks that may be more appealing to children - despite the presence of added sugar. This is significant since only a third to a half of all American children and adolescent boys meet dietary guidelines for dairy. Less than one in five adolescent girls meet the requirement. The study took place between 1999 and 2002, and involved a total of 7557 children whose milk intakes were reported in 24-hour dietary recalls and height and weight measurements through physical examinations. Linear regression analysis was then used to compare mean milk intakes, energy and nutrient intakes and body mass index (BMI) measurements. The researchers found that children who consumed flavored milk had overall higher intake of milk than those who drank only plain milk. Intake of vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and saturated fat were "generally comparable"​ between the two milk-drinking groups - but significantly higher than for those who drank no milk. Added sugar intake did not differ between flavored and plain milk drinkers. Moreover, BMI measures of milk drinkers were seen to be comparable to or lower than BMI measures of non-milk drinkers. "Findings from this study suggest that consumption of either flavored or plain milk is associated with a positive influence on nutrient intakes by children and adolescents and is not associated with adverse effects on BMI measures,"​ concluded the researchers. The Dairy Council of California has drawn attention to the findings, with its registered dietician Andrea Garen saying: "These findings should come as a relief for parents torn between serving their children foods that taste good and those that are good for them." She did, however, draw attention to the need for a balanced diet drawn from all food groups, as well as at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Source Journal of the American Dietetic Association​ Volume 108, Issue 4​, Pages 631-639 (April 2008) DOI: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.01.004 "Drinking flavored or plain milk is positively associated with nutrient intake and is not associated with adverse effects on weight status in US children and adolescents." ​Authors: Mary Murphy, Judith Douglass, Rachel Johnson, Lisa Spence

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