Another Food Myth Busted: Whole-fat milk consumption associated with leaner children

“The study’s findings differ from Health Canada, National Institutes of Health and American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommending two servings of low fat (one per cent or two per cent) milk for children over the age of two to reduce the risk of childhood obesity.”

The key finding here is not that whole milk makes kids leaner — that cannot be established by this study — but that whole milk doesn’t seem to make them fatter — unlike what the government and food nannies have been telling us for the past 40 years.

The media release is below.

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Whole-fat milk consumption associated with leaner children, research finds
Children who drink whole milk are leaner and have higher vitamin D levels than those who drink low-fat or skim milk, new research suggests

ST. MICHAEL’S HOSPITAL

TORONTO, Nov. 16, 2016–Children who drink whole milk are leaner and have higher vitamin D levels than those who drink low-fat or skim milk, new research suggests.

Children who drank whole (3.25 per cent fat content) milk had a Body Mass Index score that was 0.72 units lower than those who drank 1 or 2 per cent milk in the study published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

That’s comparable to the difference between having a healthy weight and being overweight, said lead author Dr. Jonathon Maguire, a pediatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital.

The study did not assess why consuming higher fat content milk was associated with lower BMI scores. But Dr. Maguire hypothesized that children who drank whole milk felt fuller than those who drank the same amount of low-fat or skim milk. If children don’t feel full from drinking milk, they are more likely to eat other foods that are less healthy or higher in calories, said Dr. Maguire. Therefore children who drink lower fat milk may actually consume more calories overall than those who drink whole milk.

The study also found that children who drank one cup of whole milk each day had comparable vitamin D levels to those who drank nearly 3 cups of one per cent milk. This could be because vitamin D is fat soluble, meaning it dissolves in fat rather than water. Milk with higher fat content therefore contains more vitamin D. There may also be an inverse relationship in children between body fat and vitamin D stores, according to the study; as children’s body fat increases, their vitamin D stores decrease.

“Children who drink lower fat milk don’t have less body fat, and they also don’t benefit from the higher vitamin D levels in whole milk,” said Dr. Maguire. “It’s a double negative with low fat milk.”

The study’s findings differ from Health Canada, National Institutes of Health and American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommending two servings of low fat (one per cent or two per cent) milk for children over the age of two to reduce the risk of childhood obesity.

Dr. Maguire said the findings indicated a need to closely examine existing nutritional guidelines around milk fat consumption to make sure they are having the desired effect. Childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years while consumption of whole milk has halved over the same period.

“What kind of milk our children should be consuming is something we need to seek the right answer for,” said Dr. Maguire.

For this study, researchers studied 2,745 children ages two to six years attending well-child visits. They surveyed parents, measured height and weight to calculate BMI and took blood samples to assess vitamin D levels. All were enrolled in the Applied Research Group for Kids (TARGet Kids!), collaboration between children’s doctors and researchers from St. Michael’s Hospital and The Hospital for Sick Children. The program follows children from birth with the aim of preventing common problems in the early years and understanding their impact on health and disease later in life.

Of those studied, 49 per cent drank whole milk, 35 per cent drank two per cent milk, 12 per cent drank one per cent milk and four per cent drank skim milk. Less than one per cent of children drank some combination of the four types of milk.

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8 thoughts on “Another Food Myth Busted: Whole-fat milk consumption associated with leaner children”

  1. Fat from whole milk has also been shown to be essential to the development of brain and nerve tissue – nerve cells require a healthy layer of lipids in their cell walls. Starving a developing human nervous system of fats at the tender age of 2 does NOT seem like a good idea.

  2. The greatest risk to our health are the myriad “food warnings!!!!” Almost all of them wrong if not dangerous. “I don’t read health stories, I could die from a misprint.” Mark Twain

  3. Great news for America’s dairy farmers. Fat is not your enemy; the French, with their high-fat diet, do not have the same cardiovascular risks as we do. We’ve been chasing the wrong boogeyman for decades now in the U.S.

  4. This research study is “junk science”. Isn’t the obvious conclusion that the correlation (of higher BMI and consumption of low fat milk) is due to a parent having his/her already overweight child drink low fat milk?? Headline should be “Parents of overweight kids given their children low fat milk”. Of course, if that’s the conclusion, Dr. Maguire won’t have a follow on research study to seek funding for. What a hack, is he/she a real doctor?? This type of crap explains why nutritional guidelines are constantly changing.

  5. Low fat milk just put kids on the sugar roller coaster, Milk without fat is mostly sugar, you drink it the body must process the sugar, since it cannot remain the blood stream it turns it to fat that is stored. Whole milk has fat in it, fat slow down the body absorption of the sugars, the sugar do need to be stored but the fat does not, when a person or child drinks whole milk they won’t have the sugar crash two hour latter and will not be reaching for something more to eat. The low fat craze on lead to overweight people, to bad the agent of smart don’t know this.

  6. I stopped listening to that stuff before it came out way back when. I don’t remember if it was eggs or milk first or perhaps butter. All one had to do was look at the folks who ate those and grew up normal to know it was pure bull hockey. My dear sister falls for all that nonsense. I loved it when the officials came out and said (some 10 years later) that, well…, eggs are okay. Good actually. ha ha ha ha ha. Told Ya So!

  7. The ridiculous starting point of this paper is that BMI has anything to do with health of children in the 2-6 year age range. Even the obesity researchers don’t use BMI classification for children because there is no correlation between childhood BMI and adult BMI. Children develop at different rates specifically with respect to bone growth. Bones grow in spurts – in between spurts the body will fill out (increased BMI) and during a spurt the the BMI will decrease as the height increases.

    This is such a basic principle of child development/nutrition that no (reputable) researcher should be using BMI as a measure until puberty – and possibly not even then as bone growth can continue beyond this period. The damage to development that restricting nutrition during the filling out periods between growth spurts can do is also documented: The term “muesli-malnutrition” was coined to describe the observed developmental deficiencies of children from nutritionally-adequate (and often highly educated) societies.

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