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Is hi-lo milk really better for you?

Friday, 05 February 2016


Guidelines that recommend children over two years old eat reduced-fat dairy have been called into question by new research from Edith Cowan University, which found it was not associated with any additional health advantages when compared to full-fat products.

Health bodies globally recommend reduced fat dairy products for adults and children aged over two, but research recently published in the journal Nutrients found that full-fat dairy may be just as beneficial for cardiovascular health.

Dr Therese O’Sullivan from ECU’s School of Medical and Health Science examined the eating habits of 860 WA teenagers from early to late adolescence.

“We have long been recommending people eat low-fat dairy on the assumption that because it has less calories and less saturated fat it is healthier for you, but there was very little out there in terms of good evidence that this is the case,” she said.

Dairy cholesterol link

 “When we examined the cholesterol profile of these teenagers we found that those who ate more low-fat dairy were no better off,” she said.

“In fact, we were able to show that for teenage boys, full-fat dairy consumption was associated with a slightly better cholesterol profile than low-fat dairy.

“Intakes of both low-fat and regular fat dairy products were associated with better blood pressure in boys.”


The researchers also examined the waist to height ratio of the teenagers in the study to evaluate obesity and found no link between the type of dairy eaten and obesity.

“Given that it has less calories per serve, it was assumed that low-fat dairy would help children and teenagers maintain a healthy weight, but we found that neither low fat nor regular fat products increased risk of obesity” Dr O’Sullivan said.

“This could be because children and teenagers are actually quite good at regulating their food intake, so eating full-fat dairy makes them feel more full, potentially reducing their consumption of other foods, but this is something that requires further research.”

Dr O’Sullivan is planning to run a dietary trial looking at the health implications of low-fat versus full-fat dairy in children later this year.

For more information, email Dr O'Sullivan.

Regular Fat and Reduced Fat Dairy Products Show Similar Associations with Markers of Adolescent Cardiometabolic Health was published in Nutrients.


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