Parents may have the best intentions when it comes to keeping their growing toddlers healthy, but a new study has discovered that it's high-fat milk, not low-fat milk, that may work best at keeping toddlers from growing overweight.
“Compared to those drinking 2%/whole milk, 2- and 4-year-old children drinking 1%/skim milk had an increased adjusted odds of being overweight or obese,” researchers wrote in study, which was published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.
To complete the study, researchers interviewed the parents of 10,700 children across the United States at ages 2 and 4. The results countered common assumptions that low-fat milk will keep kids at a lower weight than high-fat milk.
Researchers instead found that 1 percent or skim milk did not “appear to restrain body weight gain” in toddlers.
According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Heart Association recommends 1 percent or skim milk after the age of two to reduce the consumption of saturated fat. However, toddlers who regularly drank low- or no-fat milk were 57 percent more likely to be overweight by the age of 4.
More research is needed to pinpoint more information about the correlation between higher-fat milk and toddlers with a healthier weight. Linda Van Horne, a spokeswoman for the heart association and a dietitian at the Northwestern University Medical School, suggests that the study, though offering insight into childhood nutrition, isn’t flawless.
“We need to remember this study was not designed to test this question of the effects of milk on weight, and we’re relying on parental reports. And sometimes those are not so good, especially as the child gets older,” Van Horne told reporters.
Dr. Mark DeBoer of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, who led the research team, points that if a child spends plenty of time playing outside and eats a balanced diet that avoids juice and soda, it likely wouldn’t matter which milk she or he drinks.