A new study published online March 18, 2013 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, a sister publication of the British Medical Journal, reports that lowfat milk is associated with higher weight in preschoolers.
You read that right.
Kids drinking lowfat milk tend to be heavier than those drinking whole milk. Skim milk drinking kids were found to be the fattest of all.
The findings call into serious question the long held recommendation of pediatricians that parents switch children to lowfat milk at age 2 in order to reduce the risk of weight problems.
It seems this misguided pediatric advice is producing the exact opposite of what was intended.
This large study of 10,700 preschoolers involved interviewing the parents when the children were 2 years old and again at 4 years old. The researchers took direct measurements of each child’s height and weight in order to accurately calculate BMI (body mass index) at both ages.
Researchers found that the children who drank skim (1%) milk were the fattest of all regardless of of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.
The 2% milk drinking children had the next highest BMI (body mass index) followed by the whole milk drinking children who were the leanest of all.
Dr Mark DeBoer said in an email to NPR that he and his co-author Dr. Rebecca Scharf, both of the University of Virginia, were “quite surpised” by the findings as they had hypothesized just the opposite.
Dr. DeBoer added that the data also indicates that use of lowfat milk did not restrain weight gain in preschoolers over time. He speculated that if you feel fuller after drinking full fat milk, “it may be protective if the other food options are high in calories.”
In other words, drinking a glass of whole milk for dinner instead of lowfat or skim milk may prevent a child from eating an extra cookie or two later.
Two Other Studies Indicate Lowfat and Skim Milk Make Kids Fatter
This is not the first study indicating that lowfat and skim milk lead to heavier children.
In 2005, a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine concluded that skim and 1% milk were associated with weight gain in children aged 9-14, but dairy fat was not.
A more recent study in 2010 published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that switching from whole milk to reduced-fat milk at age 2 years did not appear to prevent overweight in early childhood.
Take home lesson for parents? Give your kids whole milk like Grandma and Grandpa did. Taking the fat out of milk doesn’t help one iota in reducing a child’s chances of overweight and obesity. On the other hand, giving a child whole milk appears to be protective of a healthy weight in childhood!
Learn More About Healthy Fats to Stay Slim
Want to learn more about what fats to eat and what fats to avoid to stay slim and healthy? Check out my eBook Get Your Fats Straight – Why Skim Milk is Making You Fat and Giving You Heart Disease and Other Surprising Facts About Fats.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. Her work is dedicated to helping families effectively incorporate the principles of ancestral diets within the modern household. She is a sought after lecturer around the world for conferences, summits, and podcasts.
Her work has been covered by major media including USA Today, ABC, NBC, and many others.