High-fat dairy products, often considered a villain in the fight against obesity, may not be on the dieting “naughty” list after all, according to a new study published in the European Journal of Nutrition. Instead, there appears to be no relationship between full-fat dairy products and weight gain when consumed as part of a healthy diet.

For the study, three researchers reviewed 16 studies looking at the relationship between dairy fat and high-fat dairy foods, obesity, and cardiometabolic disease. In nearly 70 percent of the studies, high-fat dairy intake was inversely associated with obesity.

“High-fat dairy consumption is not associated with obesity,” Stephan Guyenet, one of the study’s authors, wrote in his blog. “In fact, 11 out of 16 studies found that higher dairy fat intake is associated with lower body fat and/or less fat gain over time.  None identified an association between high-fat dairy consumption and fat gain, although some did find an association between low-fat dairy consumption and fat gain.”

Researchers also found nothing to link these full-fat products with poorer metabolic health or increased risk of diabetes.

“The association between high-fat dairy intake and diabetes risk is inconsistent.  Zero of eight studies found that high-fat dairy consumption is associated with diabetes risk, and three found that it was protective,” Guyenet noted.

More research is likely.

“Although not conclusive, these findings may provide a rationale for future research into the bioactive properties of dairy fat and the impact of bovine feeding practices on the health effects of dairy fat,” the study concluded.   

Read more about the study from Guyene's blog  or check out the study here.