Children who drink whole milk may have 40 per cent lower odds of being overweight or obese compared to those who consume reduced-fat milk, according to a review of studies which challenges current international dietary recommendations. The researchers, including those from St. Michael's Hospital in Canada, analysed 28 studies, involving almost 21,000 children between one and 18 years of age, and explored the relationship between children drinking cow's milk, and the risk of being overweight or obese.
According to their findings, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, none of the 28 studies showed that kids who drank reduced-fat milk had a lower risk of being overweight or obese.
Eighteen of the 28 studies suggested that children who drank whole milk were less likely to be overweight or obese, challenging international guidelines which recommend reduced-fat cow milk instead of whole milk from age two to reduce the risk of obesity.
"The majority of children in Canada and the United States consume cow's milk on a daily basis and it is a major contributor of dietary fat for many children," said Jonathon Maguire, lead author of the review from St. Michael's Hospital.
"In our review, children following the current recommendation of switching to reduced-fat milk at age two were not leaner than those consuming whole milk," Maguire added.
The researchers plan to establish the cause and effect of whole milk and lower risk of obesity by conducting clinical trials.
"All of the studies we examined were observational studies, meaning that we cannot be sure if whole milk caused the lower risk of overweight or obesity. Whole milk may have been related to other factors which lowered the risk of overweight or obesity," Maguire said.
"A randomized controlled trial would help to establish cause and effect but none were found in the literature," he added.