Children who Drink Whole Milk Have a Lower Risk of Obesity

Children who consume whole milk have a 40% lower chance of obesity, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

To conduct this study, researchers combed the following databases: Embase, CINAHL, MEDLINE, Scopus, and Cochrane Library databases from inception to August 2019 were used. Their search included observational and interventional studies of healthy children between the ages of one and 18 that detailed the association between cow-milk fat consumption and obesity. Overall, they identified 5,862, of report, of which 28 were included in the study. The researchers utilized the Newcastle–Ottawa Scale to assess bias while a meta-analysis was conducted using random effects to evaluate the relation between cow-milk fat and risk of overweight or obesity. They assessed fat using BMI z-score (zBMI).

According to the results of the study, the researchers found that in 18 studies, higher cow-milk fat consumption was associated with a lower rate of childhood obesity and in 10 studies did not identify an association. In a meta-analysis (comprised of 14 studies) that measured the proportion of children who consumed whole milk compared with reduced-fat milk and direct measures of overweight or obesity found that among children who drank whole milk  compared with reduced-fat milk, the OR of overweight or obesity was 0.61 (95% CI, 0.52 to 0.72; P < 0.0001).

“The majority of children in Canada and the United States consume cow’s milk on a daily basis and it is a major contributor of dietary fat for many children,” said Dr. Jonathon Maguire, lead author of the review and a pediatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital in a press release about the study.

“In our review, children following the current recommendation of switching to reduced-fat milk at age two were not leaner than those consuming whole milk.”

The authors wrote in their conclusion that: “International guidelines that recommend reduced-fat milk for children might not lower the risk of childhood obesity. Randomized trials are needed to determine which cow-milk fat minimizes risk of excess adiposity.”