Preschoolers who drink low-fat milk more likely to be overweighthttp://www.thestar.com/life/2013/03/25/preschoolers_who_drink_lowfat_milk_more_likely_to_be_overweight.html
Drinking low-fat milk has exactly the opposite result on the weight of young children, a study of nearly 11,000 preschoolers reveals: they were more likely to be overweight or obese.
The study by pediatricians at the University of Virginia flies in the face of doctors’ advice to feed low-fat milk (skim or 1 per cent) to children after the age of 2 to protect against obesity.
Low-fat milk not only failed to stop these children from gaining weight from age 2 to age 4, it increased the odds of them being obese or overweight 4-year-olds.
“We do think that part of what we are seeing is the fact that children who are heavier are more likely to be switched to lower fat milk than their lighter peers,” study lead author Dr. Rebecca Scharf told the Star.
It’s not that drinking low-fat milk was the cause of excess weight. It’s just that drinking low-fat milk didn’t stop weight gain.
“It seems from this study that other means of targeting obesity prevention such as avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages, watching less television, et cetera, may be more effective,” Scharf.
When she started the study, Scharf expected entirely different results: that the low-fat milk drinkers would be leaner than the ones who drank 2 per cent or whole milk. Researchers used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey of children born in 2001 and assessed at age 2 and age 4.
Even more striking to Scharf was the finding that 30.1 per cent of the children aged 2 and 32.2 per cent of those aged 4 could be classed as obese or overweight.
Among those overweight and obese children, 14 per cent at 2 years and 16 per cent at 4 years were low-fat milk drinkers, compared with 9 per cent at 2 years and 13 per cent at 4 years for normal weight children.
The vast majority of children, more than 80 per cent in both groups, drank whole or 2 per cent milk.
Scharf was clear that the study found no cause and effect, merely an association. The study suggested reasons: parents of overweight children might be more likely to feed their children low-fat milk or whole milk might make children feel more full, so they eat or snack less.
A study that examined milk consumption along with total calorie intake for young children could provide more answers, Scharf said.