These results cast important context around the positive role that dairy can play as part of a balanced, healthy diet and lifestyle. Further, it reinforces the notion that dairy should not be singled out as a contributing factor in the approximately 32% and 17% of U.S. children aged 2 to 19 classified as overweight or obese, respectively. Current estimates indicate the prevalence of obesity in children and adolescents could almost double by 2030.
The Dairy Research Institute, which manages pre-competitive dairy research in nutrition, product and sustainability on behalf of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the National Dairy Council, and other sponsors, has focused research on the connection between dairy consumption and healthy weight, including research among children and adolescents.
“This review underscores the importance of dairy’s role in promoting healthy growth and development in children and adolescents,” said Gregory Miller, PhD, president of the Dairy Research Institute and executive vice president of the National Dairy Council. “Obesity at such an early age is of great concern because it increases the risk for many debilitating health conditions, such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke and some types of cancer.”
The article published in Current Nutrition & Food Science reviewed 36 observational studies that examined the relationship between either dairy food consumption or calcium intake on body weight and body composition in children and adolescents. The results from nearly all of the studies demonstrate either a beneficial or neutral relationship between the consumption of dairy and/or calcium and body weight and body composition in children and adolescents.
The results from the few randomized clinical trials that investigated the effects of dairy consumption on body weight and body composition indicate that milk intake has a neutral effect on body weight and body composition in children and adolescents. However, additional clinical research is needed to better understand this relationship.
“While additional research is needed to better understand the relationship between dairy food consumption and weight management in children and adolescents, current research continues to show that milk and milk products provide important nutrients to the diets of children and adolescents without adversely affecting body weight and body composition,” says Christopher Cifelli, PhD, director of nutrition research, Dairy Research Institute.
“These study results provide an even stronger foundation for what we already know about the nutritious make up of dairy,” says Kevin Ponticelli, chair, Dairy Research Institute, and senior executive vice president of Dairy Management Inc. “It also reinforces the importance of developing nutritious dairy or dairy-based products that help consumers early on to establish recommended healthy eating patterns for life.”