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Low-Fat Milk = High-Fat Kid

Low-Fat Milk = High-Fat Kid

Walk into a school cafeteria and you will find boxes upon boxes of low-fat milk (hopefully without strawberry and chocolate flavoring). Peruse a child’s menu at any restaurant in the U.S. and you will see options like orange juice, apple juice and low-fat milk. And most households with children will always have a carton of low-fat milk within reach. It has become widely accepted that children who consumed low-fat foods (in this case milk) as part of a reduced-saturated-fat diet had lower concentrations of LDL cholesterol, and a lesser risk of obesity and heart disease. This has basically been the status quo for over two decades, but should this be questioned?

Like it or not, there is new evidence to the contrary. A new study of 10,700 preschool-aged children in the United States, by the sister publication of the British Medical Journal, finds that habitual consumption of low-fat milk was associated with higher weight in children. Seems children regularly drinking low-fat milk had a noticeably stronger tendency to pack on the pounds than those who regularly drank whole milk (no data was offered on HDL or LDL levels in the subjects). Researchers found the relationship between skim-milk drinkers and higher body weights held up across all racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

So why in the world would this be? Is this study a complete anomaly? Well, not really, as there have been a handful of other studies over the last two decades that have yielded similar results. As to why this might be, one theory is that fatty whole milk fills you up, whereas low-fat milk leaves you feeling less than satisfied, leaving room for all sorts of other treats. And a bit of fat is beneficial for growing brains and bodies. But to be sure, milk (whether it be low-fat or whole) is not likely the leading factor in childhood obesity. That honor would likely go to sugary sodas and sugary snacks.

What are your thoughts on these findings? Do you opt for whole milk or low-fat milk products for your children?

Harvard Declares Dairy NOT Part of a Healthy Diet

Read more: Basics, Blogs, Caregiving, Children, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Family, Food, Health, Healthy Schools, Obesity, Parenting at the Crossroads, , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


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1:45AM PDT on Apr 17, 2013

I agreed with Matt S.

9:48AM PDT on Apr 4, 2013

I don't believe we need to drink milk throughout our life for the reason that children and young animals were weaned off from their mother's milk when they are old enough to consume solid food. It is natural that we can survive and live healthy on other food excluding milk from our diet and that is a fact of life. For example just look at animals, once the young are wean off their mother's milk they don't go back to drink milk from their mother or other adult animal that produce milk.

11:17PM PDT on Mar 28, 2013

ty for posting... so much of everything lowfat ... is higher in something else bad for you.

5:26AM PDT on Mar 26, 2013


2:50AM PDT on Mar 26, 2013

Don't eat dairy products or meat.

3:26PM PDT on Mar 25, 2013

Thank you Eric for Sharing this!

8:28AM PDT on Mar 25, 2013

just skip the milk altogether. cow's milk is designed to make baby cows grow fat fast. adult humans don't need milk, but if they're still thirsty for it go ask your mother, but leave the cows alone.

2:17AM PDT on Mar 25, 2013

Christine, the scenario you describe is typical of factory farmed dairy cows, but not ALL dairy cows. The dairies in my area breed only about 1/4th of the herd, to replenish the productive cows when they become too old to pay their way and then are retired or sent to slaughter. A cow does not need to be pregnant to provide milk, and you're wrong about humans being the ONLY species to drink the milk of another. We may be the only species that KEEPS another species for their milk production, but many other species will nurse the young of other species, and that includes goats. A good dairy cow will produce enough milk to feed her calf as well as contribute to the farm's "product", so again, not correct that calves are removed immediately so the cow can continue to produce milk only "for sale". If that were true, then the farmer would have to feed the calves something what?

Dianne D., you posted that same misinformation in another Care2 article. I drink almond milk and the carton very clearly states 90 calories per serving. Unless YOUR serving size glass is a shot glass, it's more than 30 calories.

12:46PM PDT on Mar 24, 2013

Personally, I find the idea of an adult human drinking the milk of another species very odd; no other animal on the planet does it. But that's just my personal opinion. Anyone can drink whatever they like, that's their own business, and I would never attack anyone's diet. Having said that, if you choose to drink dairy milk, please don't kid yourself that by buying organic or raw or local or fresh or whatever makes the slightest bit of difference in terms of animal welfare. The fact is that when we take away a cow's milk, she can't feed her calf, and the calf (apart from a small number of females retained to replenish the herd) is separated from its mother, causing them both distress, and sent to a slaughterhouse.

8:57AM PDT on Mar 24, 2013

Hard to know what is really good or bad for you ,with all the conflicted studies!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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