A meta-analysis published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that children who drink whole milk may be less likely to be overweight or obese compared with children who consume reduced-fat milk.

The researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital of Unity Health Toronto analyzed 28 studies from seven countries that examined the relationship between children drinking cow’s milk and the risk of being overweight or obese. They found that none of the studies showed that kids who drank reduced-fat milk had a lower risk of being overweight or obese. In fact, the researchers found that the opposite may be true—18 of the 28 studies suggested that the children who drank whole milk were less likely to be overweight or obese.

“The majority of children in Canada and the United States consume cow’s milk on a daily basis and it is a major contributor of dietary fat for many children,” said Jonathon Maguire, lead author of the review and a pediatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital, in a university press release. “In our review, children following the current recommendation of switching to reduced-fat milk at age two were not leaner than those consuming whole milk.”

Maguire noted that all the studies his team examined were observational, meaning that they can’t prove that whole milk directly leads to a lower risk of obesity. Therefore, the researchers plan to conduct a randomized controlled trial to study whole milk’s effect on obesity risk.


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