Study links higher dairy consumption to teen weight loss

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Obesity Researcher

Adolescents eating higher amounts of dairy goods, within the recommended daily guidelines, generally have lower levels of fat to those with a reduced intake, says a new study.

Both boys and girls whose consume 3 to 4 servings of dairy products a day had less subcutaneous body fat then those with smaller consumption habits, according to findings published in the latest addition of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

However, no pattern between dairy consumption and weight was ascertained through the same study conducted with children, suggest researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine, Massachusetts.

Continued research into the field may boost the dairy industry’s attempts to promote its products as playing a positive role, within a balanced diet, for offering some benefits to weight management.

These sentiments have been backed, in part, by UK-based health charity, the British Heart Foundation (BHF), which stressed that no one type of food or beverage product could ensure a healthy diet.

A spokesperson for the charity said following similar research released last year that a balanced diet, reliant on no one particular food stuff, therefore remained the best way for consumers to stave off obesity.


This hypothesis of the impact on dairy consumption on body mass was linked to findings from earlier research conducted in 1984 based on the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). He study inadvertently suggested an inverse association between calcium intake and weight.

Head researcher Lynne Moore said that based around more recent statistics presented by the NHANES, adolescent girls, between 12 and 16 years of age, consuming 1 to 3 dairy servings had about 2.5mm less body fat.

Under the same conditions, girls who consumed three of more goods at a suboptimum level recorded roughly 5mm less fat, stated the study.

“Adolescent boys consuming 4 or more servings of dairy per day had lower anthropometry levels than did those consuming less than two servings,” ​stated the study.

The researchers claimed that weight differences between subjects in the consumption groups could not be explained by confounding factors like age, racial or ethnic origin, television viewing habits, energy intake or dietary fat.

“Since dairy consumption and calcium intakes are highly correlated, it is not surprising that the addition of calcium to the model attenuated the effect of dairy,”​ the study stated.

It is not possible to determine whether the higher body mass index (BMI) and sum of two skinfolds among those with lower dairy intakes is due to lower total calcium consumption, some other component in dairy, or uncontrolled confounding.”


The study, which combined data from more recent NHANES findings, classified the dairy intake of 6,095 children aged between 5 to 11 years of age and 4,520 adolescents of 12 to 16 years of age.

The daily dairy intake was measured on 24-hour recalls for girls at either low intake of one serving and below, moderate intake of below three dairy products and high intake of three servings or more.

For boys tested, a low intake was classed as two or less servings, moderate intake of two to three dairy products and high intake of four servings or more.

Using the NHANES data, researchers said that both BMI and sum of two skinfolds – triceps and subscapular – were counted as anthropometric indices. Weight was then measuresed in kilograms with a digital scale and recorded using automated systems, said the researchers.

Source: Journal of the American College of Nutrition

"Dairy Intake and Anthropometric Measures of Body Fat among Children and Adolescents in NHANES"Volume 27, No. 6, Pages 702–710Authors: Lynn Moore, Martha R. Singer, M. Mustafa Qureshi, et al.

Related topics R&D Dairy Health Check

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