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Children With Thirst For Milk Are Fatter

Children With Thirst For Milk Are Fatter

Thursday, February 23rd 2006

Children are urged to drink plenty of milk but a study published this week suggested the more milk kids drink, the fatter they grow - and skim milk is a worse culprit than whole milk.

A survey of more than 12,000 children aged nine to 14 showed that those who drank more milk weighed more than those who drank less.

"Children who drank the most milk gained more weight, but the added calories appeared responsible," the team at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard University in Boston wrote in their report, published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

But there was a surprising finding.

"Contrary to our hypotheses, dietary calcium and skim and 1 per cent milk were associated with weight gain, but dairy fat was not," they wrote.

It could be that the youngsters drink lower-fat milk more freely.

Thus, it may not be milk itself but the calories in the milk that are to blame, said biostatistician Catherine Berkey, who led the study, in a statement.

A 225ml serving of whole milk has 150 calories, 1 per cent milk has 100 calories and skim milk has 85 calories.

"The take-home message is that children should not be drinking milk as a means of losing weight or trying to control weight," Berkey said.

An estimated 16 per cent of US children weigh too much.

Walter Willett, of the Harvard School of Public Health, who worked on the study, said he was concerned about the heavy advertising of milk.

"The basic beverage should be water," Willett said.

"We know that in many parts of the world, kids don't drink any milk at all and they end up with healthy bones."

In March a study in the journal Pediatrics showed that exercise was at least as important for building strong bones in children as eating calcium-rich foods was.

Willett said leafy green vegetables are rich in calcium and other nutrients that Americans lack in their diets, and are low in calories.

Willett's team followed 12,829 US children, aged nine to fourteen in 1996, through 1999. The children, all offspring of nurses taking part in a big health study, filled out regular questionnaires and lifestyle habits.

"Children who drank more than three servings a day of milk gained more in BMI than those who drank smaller amounts," the researchers wrote.

BMI stands for body mass index, a comparison of height to weight that is accepted as a good way to measure whether someone is overweight.

Children who drank more than three servings a day were 25 per cent more likely to become overweight than those who drank two to three servings a day.

"The US Department of Agriculture food guide pyramid recommends two to three servings per day from the milk, cheese, and yoghurt group, primarily to promote adequate calcium intake for the prevention of osteoporosis in old age," the researchers noted.

"Given the high prevalence of lactose intolerance, the energy content and saturated fat in milk, and evidence that dairy products may promote both male (prostate) and female (ovarian) cancers, we should not assume that high intakes are beneficial," they said.

Nutrition professor Marion Nestle of New York University said the study did not clearly show that milk causes weight gain.

"It's one more study. One way or another it's a very small effect."

Source New Zealand Herald, Wednesday 8 June 2005

Footnote from Ideal Health:

The following products are all useful for Healthy Bones:

Ethi Cal Hi-Strength Tablets
Calcium - Magnesium
Kids Bone
Kindervital For Children
Ethi Cal Bone Builder Vitamin D Powder
Liquid Calcium
Mineral Power
Super Calcium Complete
Vitamin C with Hesperidin
Vitamin & Mineral Boost Powder

Related health information can be found here:

Acid and alkaline forming foods
Calcium Deficiency
Good nutrition for positive weight control
Mineral Power
Protein - a macronutrient so often overlooked
Recommended Calcium Intake for New Zealanders
Water, the elixir of life

Related articles can be found here:

Age at First Exposure to Cereal Linked to Risk of Diabetes
Food Allergies May Trigger Life-Threatening Asthma Attacks
Health red alert on fatty blue-top milk
Iron Supplementation Beneficial in Healthy, Full-Term Infants
Calcium cure boost risk of heart attack - Research
Probiotics Well Tolerated, Safe in Infant Formula
Ritalin Slows Growth In Children: Study

If you need help or advice, you are welcome to email our naturopathic team with your health question.

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered. The information is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide medical advice to you. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.


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