Diary and Obesity (Photo Credit: File Photo)
Children who consume full-fat dairy products do not show an increased risk of obesity or heart disease, according to a study which may lead to new dietary interventions for kids.
The study, published in the journal Advances in Nutrition, reviewed 29 studies from around the world that examined consumption of full-fat dairy products in children.
According to the researchers, including those from Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Australia, there was no clear link between the consumption of whole-fat dairy products and weight gain, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure in children.
Therese O'Sullivan, a co-author of the study from ECU, said the findings highlight the need for better evidence in this field of research.
"Dietary guidelines in Australia and other countries recommend children primarily consume reduced-fat dairy products to maintain a healthy weight and good cardiovascular health," O'Sullivan said.
"We found studies were consistent in reporting that whole-fat dairy products were not associated with increased levels of weight gain or obesity," she added.
The researchers said reduced-fat dairy is generally recommended for both adults and children over the age of two years due to its lower energy and saturated fat content.
"However, studies suggest children who consumed low-fat over full-fat dairy were actually replacing those calories from fat with other foods," O'Sullivan said.
"This suggests that low-fat dairy is not as filling as whole-fat dairy, which may lead kids to consume more of other foods. Health effects may depend on what these replacement foods are," she added.
The researchers, however, cautioned that most studies assessed were observational, with a lack of good quality trials.
According to the scientists, more research is needed to inform evidence-based guidelines for parents.
They said whole-fat dairy may play an important role in a balanced diet for growing children.
"Dairy is a good dietary source of nutrients for healthy development, including protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and several vitamins," O'Sullivan said.
"Even though the fats found in whole-fat dairy are mostly saturated fats, they don't appear to be associated with the same detrimental health effects observed with foods like fatty meats," she added.