US researchers link low-fat milk consumption with pre-school obesity

By Mark ASTLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

US researchers link low-fat milk consumption with pre-school obesity

Related tags: Milk

Pre-school children that consume 1%-fat or skim milk are more likely to be overweight or obese between the ages of two and four than those who consume whole or 2%-fat milk, a US study has discovered. 

Researchers from the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine found that after adjusting for ethnic and economic factors children who drank skim or 1%-fat milk had higher body mass index (BMI) scores than those who drank whole or 2%-fat milk.

The goal of the study, Longitudinal evaluation of milk type consumed and weight status in per-schoolers,​ was to evaluate the relationship between milk fat consumption and BMI.

The findings challenge a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Heart Association (AHA) that after the age of two children should drink low-fat or skim milk to reduce their saturated fat intake and avoid excess weight gain.

Neither the AHA nor the AAP were immediately available to comment on the findings.

Low-fat associated with “overweight and obesity”

The researchers – led by Dr Mark DeBoer - assessed the relationship between milk fat consumption and BMI among 10,700 pre-school children at the age of two and four - studied as part of the 2001 Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey Birth Cohort (ECLS-B).

“To assess longitudinal associations of milk type with weight gain over time, we selected children reported to drink 1%-fat/skim milk (low-fat) at both two and four years and those reported to drink 2%/whole milk (high fat) at both time points,”​ said the report.

The team’s initial hypothesis was that “low-fat milk would be associated with lower BMI score and less weight gain over time.”

The researchers discovered, however, that children drinking 1%-fat or skim milk at both two and four years were more likely to become overweight or obese between these ages.

"In conclusion, we found that among pre-schoolers, consumption of 1%/skim milk was associated with overweight and obesity,”​ said the study. “While uncertain, these findings may reflect an increase in adherence to the recommendations of physicians and the AAP among families of children who are overweight/obese.”

Satiety-inducing milk fats…

Alternatively, higher levels of satiety-inducing milk fats in whole milk or 2% fat milk could be behind the findings, the study added.

“At least theoretically, high-fat milk intake may result in less weight gain if its consumption leads to an overall decrease in calories consumed,” ​it said.

“The presence of fat can induce satiety through the release of cholecystokinin and other factors. This could potentially lower appetite for other calorically dense foods, as noted in pre-schoolers who drink excessive volumes of milk and concurrently eat less iron-containing food, contributing to iron deficiency anaemia.”

Related topics: R&D, Dairy Health Check, Fresh Milk

Related news

5 comments

Show more

fatter milk slows glycemia

Posted by chris aylmer,

Milk, low in or devoid of fat has less texture and flavor than whole milk and so may not be as satisfying. The fat also slows the absorption of sugars in the milk and other foods eaten with it such as cereals high in sugar and/or complex carbohydrates. So you get lower sugar spikes in the blood. Excess sugar is turned to fat very easily in the liver, easier I believe than breaking down absorbed fats and converting them to fats needed in the human body. Lastly, skim milk has less natural vitamins, making it necessary to add back synthetic vitamins A and D. Not much going for skim milk, unless you slavishly follow the increasingly doubtful evidence of saturated fats causing heart disease.

Report abuse

the low fat diet is mis-guidance

Posted by quetzalcoatl,

Ultimately this study adds to others that correctly debunk the theory that fat is unhealthy. There are indeed unhealthy fats(trans, hydrogenated, oxidised, etc) however healthy fatty acids and triglycerides are critical nutrients and have been wrongly vilified by the FDA and USDA. In turn the creation of low fat food has actually increased diet-related disease, including obesity and post prandial hyperglycemia.
The food industry and FDA are the unwitting engineers of disease.

Report abuse

Children Need Fat

Posted by Jerry Segers,

If you look at the composition of mothers milk you find that it is replete with saturated fat. It seems silly to me to believe that any other formulation of milk would be better for the child. I thought we got over the idea that Doctors knew the nutrition needs of a child better than mothers milk back in the sixties when I was bottle fed because the doctor convinced my mother that formula was better than her milk.

In fact there are studies as far back as the 1920 which show that eating fat does not make you fat even as an adult.

Report abuse