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The Milky Way Study

Current Australian dietary guidelines recommend that children, from the age of two, consume mostly reduced fat dairy products, including low fat milk, yoghurt and cheese. However, there is a lack of good quality evidence to support this. In fact, recent observational research suggests that  regular fat dairy may also have health benefits.

The research

Dr O’Sullivan and colleagues from ECU, Telethon Kids Institute and the University of Western Australia will now embark on a 3 month controlled double-blind trial that will compare consumption of regular fat dairy products to consumption of reduced fat dairy products. Known as the Milky Way study,  the project will involve a sample size of about 50 children, aged between four years and six years. The children will be randomly assigned to either a regular or reduced fat dairy group, and have dairy products delivered free to their homes in plain packaging.

This study will compare the impact of regular fat and reduced fat dairy products across three main health outcomes including obesity, gut health and cardiovascular health. If the results of the research are promising, the team will look at replicating the study on a much larger scale, to provide good  quality evidence for future dietary guidelines.


  • Telethon –Perth Children’s Hospital Research Fund
  • Telethon Kids Institute Seed Funding
  • School of Medical and Health Science Small Grant


Dr Therese O’Sullivan
Professor David Lawrence
Professor Trevor Mori
Associate Professor Philippa Lyons-Wall
Professor Amanda Devine
Dr Debbie Palmer
Dr Anna Callan
Dr Claus Christophersen
Associate Professor Mary Boyce
Dr Sophia Nimphus


  • Kane Deering – Dietary associations with gut health in children
  • Analise Nicholl – Impact of dairy fat on adiposity and cardiovascular health
  • Kate Evelegh – Applying respectful principles to develop child centered research methods
  • Julie Hill – Development of a child centered BOD POD protocol
  • Amber Harland – Point of care haemoglobin assessment compared to lab values and iron status in children
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