Milk is a good food

Friday, 04 April, 2008

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that children who drink plain or flavoured milk consume more nutrients and have a lower or comparable body mass index (BMI – a measure of body fatness) than children who don’t drink milk.

The study compared nutrient intakes and BMIs among 7557 US children and adolescents ages 2–18 years drinking flavoured milk (with or without plain milk), exclusively plain milk and no milk. All comparisons were adjusted for the amount of calories reported as well as age allowing for differences to be examined based on equal consumption of calories and age distributions.

Results showed milk drinkers (flavoured and plain) had significantly higher intakes of vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium than non-milk drinkers. In addition, BMI measures of milk drinkers were comparable to or lower than measures of non-milk drinkers. Intake of added sugars did not differ between flavoured milk drinkers and non-milk drinkers. Among females 12–18 years of age, average calcium intakes by flavoured milk drinkers and exclusively plain milk drinkers were nearly double the calcium intakes of non-milk drinkers.

Rachel Johnson, PhD, MPH, RD, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Prof of Nutrition at the University of Vermont, a co-author of the study noted, “Intakes of added sugars were comparable between flavoured milk drinkers and non-milk drinkers confirming that the inclusion of flavoured milk in the diet does not lead to significantly higher added sugar intakes by children and adolescents.”

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage children to enjoy three age-appropriate servings of low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese or yogurt each day.

Currently, fewer than half of children ages 2–8 and only about one-quarter of children ages 9–19 meet the recommended dairy food intake. Flavoured milks can provide part of the solution for meeting these recommendations. According to the dietary guidelines, small amounts of sugars added to nutrient-rich foods, such as low-fat and fat-free dairy products, may increase a person’s intake of such foods by enhancing the taste of these products, thus improving nutrient intake without contributing excessive calories.

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