Milk “does a body good,” but it does a body better when it’s full-fat, a new analysis suggests.
Canadian researchers analyzed 14 studies involving 20,897 children around the world that compared kids who drank whole milk (3.25% fat) to those who drank reduced-fat (0.1 to 2%) milk.
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Nearly 1 in 3 kids in North America are overweight or obese, the researchers noted, with childhood obesity having tripled over the past 40 years. During that same time frame, they noted, the number of kids who drink whole milk has been cut in half.
The Canadians' review, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that not only did whole milk not cause weight gain, but it also appeared to lower the odds of childhood obesity.
“Several mechanisms have been proposed that might explain why higher cow-milk fat consumption could result in lower childhood adiposity,” wrote Jonathon Maguire, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Toronto, who led the study.
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One mechanism could be the calories from whole milk replace in high-sugar drinks like soda. Another could be that low-fat milk doesn’t make a child feel “full,” so it drinks more milk, thereby consuming more calories.
Maguire acknowledges the study has limitations, the biggest being all the studies analyzed were observational.
According to CNN, the researchers will now conduct a randomized, controlled trial with 500 kids to see if the correlation between fat content and obesity exists.
It's important we "understand the health effects of what we do with our children," Maguire told CNN. "Parents are making these decisions on a day-to-day basis" and they need evidence, he says.
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