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Dairy intake, obesity, and metabolic health in children and adolescents: knowledge and gaps

Status: 
Completed
Study area: 
Nutrition/Dietary
General Wellness
Co-investigator(s): 
Huang TT, McCrory MA.
Project period: 
2005
Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA. terry.huang@tufts.edu

There is an urgent need to identify nutrition-related risk factors for obesity and the metabolic syndrome, because the prevalence of these conditions continues to rise among children and adolescents. While some studies suggest that dairy and calcium intake may attenuate obesity and the metabolic syndrome, others do not support these findings. In addition, very little research has been done in children and adolescents, especially in minority youth, who are at the greatest risk for obesity and metabolic dysfunctions. Longitudinal studies examining the role of dairy intake in relation to changes in body composition and metabolic profiles during growth are also critically needed. Of the studies conducted thus far, part of the discrepancy in findings may be due to the uncertainty over whether the effect of dairy intake is independent of energy intake or other eating pattern variables. Further, there is no consensus on how to qualify (i.e., which foods) or quantify (i.e., which cutoffs and/or units) dairy consumption. The widespread problem of implausible dietary reporting in observational studies and the lack of compliance monitoring in intervention trials may also contribute to inconsistent findings. Given the lack of consensus on the effect of dairy, particularly in children and adolescents, more research is warranted before any recommendations can be made on dietary guidelines, policies, and intervention