Dairy has no impact on kids' body mass index

Children are being encouraged to eat three serves a day of dairy foods, including milk and cheese.
Children are being encouraged to eat three serves a day of dairy foods, including milk and cheese. Nicholas Falconer

NEW research has found children's dairy consumption has no impact on their Body Mass Index (BMI), but is linked to lower blood pressure.

While various studies have examined how dairy consumption may influence weight and blood pressure in adults, few have been conducted in children.

GP, dairy advocate and mother-of-six Ginni Mansberg said these findings were important in breaking down common misconceptions about dairy foods and weight.

"These research findings reinforce just how important it is for children to get their three serves of dairy foods every day for growth and development," Dr Mansberg said.

"It's reassuring to know there is no negative link between dairy and weight and that dairy foods are an easy way to provide kids with essential nutrients."

The study, involving 335 toddlers and conducted by the Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders at the University of Sydney, aimed to examine the association between dairy consumption at 18 months and BMI and blood pressure at eight years of age.

The research findings include:

  • In children, regardless of the number of serves of dairy consumed, there was no difference in BMI.
  • In children who consumed 2.9 serves of dairy or more each day, there was an added benefit of lower blood pressure.
  • This reduced blood pressure is associated with a 12% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • The results of this study support a protective effect of dairy consumption in early childhood on blood pressure at age eight years.

Associate Professor Tim Gill said the study showed how important having enough dairy foods was for kids.

"Our research shows eating the recommended amounts of dairy foods including milk, cheese and yogurt, is not linked to weight gain and is associated with lower blood pressure in eight and nine-year-old children," he said.

Topics:  children's health dairy

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