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 the dairy to weight gain but other experts have found evidence pointing the other way.
Marta Van Loan from the USDA Agriculture Research Service at the University of California reviewed the existing evidence and concluded that the bulk of the evidence supports the idea that dairy can support weight loss.
Writing in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Van Loan said: “Today, the preponderance of scientific evidence supports the beneficial role of dairy foods in weight management.”
In reaching this conclusion the author surveying the existing evidence including observational and retrospective analysis, randomised clinical trials and animal and in-vitro studies.
Reviewing the observational and retrospective evidence, Van Loan said most studies indicate that there is a significant inverse relationship between dairy intake and body weight.
In clinical trials, the author said results have shown that overweight or obese adults who followed reduced calorie diets and increased their dairy intake achieved better results than those who cut down on calories and dairy.
Van Loan said the reason for the positive effect of dairy on weight management has yet to be established but said “it appears that the multiple bioactive compounds of dairy are involved.”
Commenting on the review conclusions, Dr Judith Bryans, director of the Dairy Council in the UK said: “With obesity rates continuing to increase, research into the effects of different foods and nutrients on weight is important. This review re-iterates the findings of earlier studies showing dairy plays a role in weight maintenance”.
Source: Journal of the American College of Nutrition
Vol. 28, No. 1, 120S–129S (2009)
“The Role of Dairy Foods and Dietary Calcium in Weight Management”
Author: Marta Van Loan