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New study finds teens with higher dairy intake have lower body fat

Saturday, February 14, 2009

* Three servings of dairy each day is a core part of healthy diet.

A new study released in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that adolescents who consumed closer to the recommended three servings of dairy foods per day had a lower body mass index and less body fat than those with lower daily dairy consumption.

"The results of the study further support existing evidence that nutrient-rich foods, such as low-fat and fat-free dairy products, are a core part of a healthy diet and may protect against adding excess body fat for children and adolescents," said Melissa Dobbins, MS, RD, CDE, Registered Dietitian with Midwest Dairy Council. "Encouraging kids to eat three servings of milk, cheese or yogurt each day is a deliciously easy way to help them build and maintain strong, healthy bones, muscles and teeth."

The study explored the association between dairy consumption and body fat among more than 10,000 U.S. children and adolescents participating in two of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Sur-veys, from 1988-1994 and 1999-2002.

Results showed that, in both survey periods, a low dairy intake among 12-16 year-olds--less than one serving per day for girls and less than two servings per day for boys--was associated with a higher BMI and greater body fat. Addition-ally, similar results were seen when examining total calcium intake in relation to body fat among the same age range. However, among younger children, ages 5-11, there was no consistent association between dairy food or calcium intake and body fat levels.

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages children and adolescents 9 years and older to consume three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese or yogurt each day. The DGA identified five "nutrients of concern" for which children have inadequate intakes -- fiber, vitamin E, calcium, potassium and magnesium. Dairy foods supply three of these shortfall nutrients -- calcium, potassium and magnesium.

Flavored milk is a nutritious and delicious solution to help children come closer to meeting these recommendations. Research demonstrates that children and adolescents who drink either flavored or plain milk consume more nutrients and have a lower or comparable BMI than children who don't drink milk. Additionally, added sugar or fat consumption does not differ in children who drink flavored milk compared to children who do not drink milk, but flavored milk drinkers do have higher calcium intakes. Midwest Dairy Council and National Dairy Council are working to improve children's health by educating and collaborating with health professionals, schools and parents to ensure that U.S. youth reap the many health benefits of nutrient-rich, low-fat and fat-free dairy foods. The dairy industry has made improvements to increase milk's appeal to children, including plastic packaging, one or more additional flavors, and better refrigeration and merchandising, resulting in a 37 percent increase in school milk consumption.

The National Dairy Council also is working with industry partners to develop flavored milk formulations that will appeal to children, schools and moms, including reduced-sugar and low-fat and fat-free varieties.

NDC has developed a Tip Sheet for the Moore study that includes the study key points and tips for parents, go to www.midwestdairy.com and click on media center. For more information on the health benefits of dairy foods, visit www.midwestdairy.com or www.National-DairyCouncil.org.

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