Is low-fat or whole-fat milk better for children?

·1-min read

For many years, public health advisors have recommended parents offer children over the age of two low-fat milk and dairy products.

However, researchers from Edith Cowan University have now claimed that advice may need to be revised, as they’ve found whole-fat milk is just as good for kids as low-fat.

"It had previously been thought young children would benefit from low-fat dairy products due to their lower levels of saturated fats and lower density of energy, in turn helping avoid obesity and risk of associated cardiometabolic diseases," commented Associate Professor Therese O'Sullivan. "Our results suggest healthy children can safely consume whole-fat dairy products without increased obesity or adverse cardiometabolic effects.

"With consideration of our results and previous research, future revisions of dietary guidelines should consider recommending children aged two and over can consume either whole fat or reduced-fat dairy."

For the study, the team analysed the health of nearly 50 children who were randomly allocated to receive either whole-fat or low-fat dairy products in place of their normal dairy intake over a three-month period.

They found that regardless of whether they were consuming whole-fat or low-fat dairy, both groups of children took in similar amounts of calories, with the kids in the low-fat dairy group naturally turned to other foods and drinks to make up for any difference.

In response, dietitian and Ph.D. candidate Analise Nicholl hopes the finding will make life easier for parents and caregivers.

"This evidence-based approach would help simplify parents' dairy choices and allow children to consume dairy according to their individual preference,” she added.

Full study results have been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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