Researchers have discovered that children who drink full-fat milk have less overall body fat and a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than those who drink semi-skimmed milk, likely because it’s more satiating and therefore prevents unnecessary snacking.
More than 18% of children aged 6-11 years are obese in the United States, which is an 11% increase since 1980. Obesity increases the risk of developing asthma, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and can be physically and psychologically damaging long-term.
Childhood obesity is now the number 1 concern for parents in the United States, topping smoking and substance abuse. A healthy diet and exercise are crucial for having healthy, lean, and happy children, which is why it is important to be armed with the right nutritional information.
How much better is full-fat milk for children?
A Canadian study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that children who drank full-fat milk had a BMI of 0.72 units less than those who drank skimmed and semi-skimmed milk.
2745 children between the age of 2 and 6 participated in the study, which surveyed genetics, height, weight, blood samples, Vitamin D levels, and BMI.
The findings of the study challenged the dietary guidelines that are currently in place for milk consumption in children, with National Health and Safety recommending low-fat milk products over full-fat products.
Dr. Jonathon Maguire, a pediatrician at the Saint Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and the assistant professor of the study, said: “The difference could mean the difference between a child being categorized as being overweight and being a healthy weight.
Why is it so much better?
Full-fat milk, also known as whole milk, contains 3.25% of milk fat, while semi-skimmed or low-fat milk contains1- 2% milk fat, however, there is less sugar and carbohydrate content in whole milk.
Drinking full-fat milk results in a more nutritious and satiating experience, which helps to reduce cravings and therefore cuts down empty calories from snacking.
Professor Maguire says that children who stick to full-fat milk have leaner physiques because they generally felt fuller than those who drank the same amount of low-fat milk.
Full-fat milk also contains a higher amount of Vitamin D, which boosts immunity, lifts the mood, keeps teeth and bones strong, and reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
What happens if children only drink low-fat milk?
Children who drink the recommended 2 cups of low-fat milk per day are more likely to snack on unhealthy and fatty foods and get fewer vitamins and minerals than those who drink whole milk, which Professor Maguire describes as “a double negative”.
Since childhood obesity has almost tripled in the past 30 years while the consumption of full-fat milk has halved, the team is now questioning the US and Canadian dietary guidelines which recommend that children over the age of two need 1-2 glasses of low-fat milk per day to reduce the risk of childhood obesity.
“What kind of milk our children should be consuming is something that we need to seek the right answer for,” they said.