Skimmed milk ‘doesn’t stop toddlers getting fat’
Jenny Hope Medical Correspondent
The Daily Mail 19 March 2013
Parents who give their toddlers skimmed milk to prevent them from gaining weight may be wasting their time. A study found that two year olds who drank full fat milk put on fewer pounds than those on low fat. Academics believe this is because full fat keeps them fuller for longer, and they eat less as a result.
The US study concluded that the type of milk given to children ‘may not matter that much’ despite fears the obesity epidemic is being fuelled by diets high in fat.
Researchers at the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine found two-year-olds who drank mainly low-fat and skimmed milk were 57 per cent more likely to become overweight by the age of four. But the average weight of children drinking full-fat milk was lower over the same period.
Professor Mark DeBoer, who led the research, said: ‘We assumed the study would show that children drinking low-fat and skimmed milk would be helped to keep their weight down, but this was not the case.
‘If you are going to drink milk, and we strongly back the importance of drinking milk at a young age, it doesn’t seem to matter that much which type it is.’
In the US, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association recommend all children drink low-fat or skimmed milk after the age of two to ward off obesity.In contrast, British children under five are not advised to drink skimmed milk – which has virtually all the fat removed – because they need the extra energy for growth.The US study asked 11,000 parents what type of milk their children drank at aged two and four: skimmed; one per cent semi-skimmed; two per cent milk fat; full-fat, or soy.
Heavier children were more likely to drink skimmed and semi-skimmed milk, with 14 per cent of heavy two-year-olds and 16 per cent of heavy four-year-olds drinking it, compared with nine per cent of normal weight two-year-olds and 13 per cent of normal weight four-year-olds.
Professor DeBoer said parents may be acting from the best motives by choosing low-fat milks, but milk fat may increase a feeling of fullness so reduce the appetite for other high calorie foods. He said: ‘Physicians don’t have much time to advise parents worried about their children putting on weight, so they may be better off sticking to advice we know works.
Gerry Gajadharsingh writes: When are the powers to be going to come clean and advise patients that following low fat diets are NOT what you need to do? Actually the title should be eating low fat makes you put on weight!