Childhood Obesity Not Helped By Reduced-Fat Dairy

Despite a commonly held belief that giving children low-fat dairy products aids in weight loss, a study released by Dairy Australia has found otherwise. Although children in the study did lower their saturated fat consumption, the children ate other foods to make up for the lower calorie dairy products, resulting in no weight loss.

For the study, Gilly Hendrie of the CSIRO and Dr Rebecca Golley of the University of South Australia divided 145 kids aged between four and 13 years into two groups. For six months, participants’ parents were instructed to replace the children’s normal, full-fat dairy products with low-fat versions. During the study, parents and children were interviewed and children had blood drawn and their body mass index (BMI) determined before, during, and at the end of the study.

While the study found that there was no weight loss achieved by those consuming low-fat dairy products, daily saturated fat intake decreased by over 3% in the group, from 16.6% to 13.3%.

This reduction in saturated fat intake can be associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, indicating that low-fat dairy can still positively impact the health of overweight children.

It is recommended that children start with whole milk at one year of age, then move to reduced fat milk after age two, and finally be offered skim milk after age five.

The study appears in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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