As a nutrient-dense food, dairy has often come under the focus of nutritionist looking to examine the relationship between dairy intake and body weight. A recent study conducted by three researchers from Iran’s Shiraz University of Medical Sciences and Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences examined body mass index (BMI) and dietary intake data from a national cross-sectional study on more than 30,000 Iranians to gain insight into how consuming fruit, vegetables and dairy may be linked with obesity risk.
While the study has several limitations, such as the unavailability of data on intake of high- and low-fat dairy products, it has significant statistical value due to the high number of participants in the research that it examines.
Participants from all but one provinces in Iran completed a questionnaire adapted around the World Health Organization’s STEPS research framework, with questions on medical histories and dietary intake as well as on physical activity, socioeconomic status, and more. Those taking part were also split into categories based on their weight/BMI.
From a group of 30,541 adults in total, 30,042 were selected following a physical examination to take part in a further questionnaire designed to find out how many servings of fruit, vegetables and dairy products the participants consumed each day. The responses were then matched across all weight categories: underweight (BMI of less than 18.5) normal weight (18.5-24.9), overweight (25-29.9) and obese (30 or higher).
According to the results, participants who eat one serving of dairy per day have a 32% lower chance of facing obesity and a 21% lower chance of becoming overweight, compared to those who consumed less than that. And even when the portions of dairy foods were more than two a day, this was associated with 17% lower odds of obesity.
Becoming overweight was also less likely for those who consumed two and more than two servings of dairy per day - the odds standing at 23% and 21% respectively - compared to those who ate less than a single serving.
Consuming more than two servings of fruit per day was also associated with a lower risk of being overweight (26%) or obese (21%).
“These findings indicated that more consumption of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products could be associated with lower odds of overweight and obesity,” the researchers wrote, noting that ‘further studies are needed to confirm the findings of our study’.
The relationship between intake of fruits, vegetables and dairy products with overweight and obesity in a large sample in Iran: Findings of STEPS 2016
Mehran Nouri, Zaineb Shateri and Shiva Faghih