select search filters
roundups & rapid reactions
before the headlines
Fiona fox's blog

expert reaction to conference abstract (unpublished work) on milk and dairy consumption and childhood obesity, presented at the European Congress on Obesity

Researchers presenting at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna report unpublished work on milk and dairy consumption and childhood obesity.


Dr Nicola Guess, Lecturer in Nutritional Sciences, King’s College London, said:

“It’s really hard to judge the method as there is so little detail here.  It looks like they considered RCT plus observational data, which is a positive.  As far as I can tell this research looked at milk and yogurt.  It is not clear whether this study included cream or butter in their analysis, but it is important to note that the observational data on butter and cream is inconsistent with regard to CVD, while gold standard RCTs tend to show a harmful effect of butter on underlying risk factors especially at high intakes.

“The data here supports a growing body of literature showing that dairy is not associated with weight gain or adiposity in children.  It used to be thought that the fat content of some dairy products such as cheese might lead to weight gain and potentially type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Newer – and more robust – evidence suggests that at worse, the effect of dairy such as milk, yogurt and cheese on obesity and cardiovascular disease is neutral, with some data pointing to a beneficial effect.  Moreover, dairy products are a great source of nutrients that the public tend to lack such as potassium and magnesium.  Finally, consumption of dairy can ensure people meet their daily calcium requirements which is especially important for children and young adults.”


Prof Tom Sanders, Professor emeritus of Nutrition and Dietetics, King’s College London, said:

“This is a conference poster so there is limited information available and it hasn’t been through peer-review – it’s difficult to tell how robust this research is.

“But we know from other evidence that milk and yogurt are not associated with obesity in children and may be protective against metabolic syndrome.  There is less certainty about full-fat cheese, but in moderation i.e. up to 28g per day (a matchbox size piece) this is probably not associated with obesity.  But this certainly does not apply to cream and butter!  Generally lower fat versions of milk, yogurt and cheese are recommended in guidelines for children over the age of 2 years of age.  There is some controversy regarding flavoured milks which can contain quite a lot of sugar.  In the USA, these have been banned from schools in some states but this has an adverse effect on overall milk consumption, which is particularly important in teenage girls to support optimum calcium deposition in bones.

“This conference poster seems to fit in with what we already know – that milk and yoghurt are not associated with obesity in children.”


* Abstract title: ‘A critical review of the role of milk and dairy products in the development of obesity in children and adolescents’ by A Dougkas et al.  This is a conference poster that was discussed at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO).  There is no paper as this is not published work.


Declared interests

Dr Nicola Guess: “No interests.”

Prof Tom Sanders: “Honorary Nutritional Director of HEART UK.  Scientific Governor of the British Nutrition Foundation.  He is now emeritus but when he was doing research at King’s College London, the following applied:

Tom does not hold any grants or have any consultancies with companies involved in the production or marketing of sugar-sweetened drinks. In reference to previous funding to Tom’s institution: £4.5 million was donated to King’s College London by Tate & Lyle in 2006; this funding finished in 2011. This money was given to the College and was in recognition of the discovery of the artificial sweetener sucralose by Prof Hough at the Queen Elizabeth College (QEC), which merged with King’s College London. The Tate & Lyle grant paid for the Clinical Research Centre at St Thomas’ that is run by the Guy’s & St Thomas’ Trust, it was not used to fund research on sugar. Tate & Lyle sold their sugar interests to American Sugar so the brand Tate & Lyle still exists but it is no longer linked to the company Tate & Lyle PLC, which gave the money to King’s College London in 2006.

Tom also used to work for Ajinomoto on aspartame about 8 years ago.

Tom was a member of the FAO/WHO Joint Expert Committee that recommended that trans fatty acids be removed from the human food chain. Tom has previously acted as a member of the Global Dairy Platform Scientific Advisory Panel and Tom is a member of the Programme Advisory Committee of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board. In the past Tom has acted as a consultant to Archer Daniel Midland Company and received honoraria for meetings sponsored by Unilever PLC. Tom’s research on fats was funded by Public Health England/Food Standards Agency.”

in this section

filter RoundUps by year

search by tag