New research, funded in part by dairy producers through their checkoff investment, shows that dairy may help black American dieters keep the muscle and lose even more fat.

Two clinical trials of obese black American adults, published in the July 2005 issue of Obesity Research, show that eating three servings of dairy per day results in greater body fat loss, and in either keeping or increasing lean muscle mass. In addition, participants who followed a reduced-calorie diet lost twice as much weight and fat when consuming more dairy.

In the first study, 34 black men and women were placed on a diet to maintain their current weight and were assigned to one of two groups ─ low or high dairy intake. After 24 weeks, participants consuming the high-dairy diet ─ three daily servings of dairy ─ lost almost 5 pounds of body fat and gained a corresponding amount of lean muscle mass. The high-dairy group also had lower blood pressure and lost an inch and a half around their waists. The group eating zero to one serving of dairy saw virtually no change in body fat, muscle, blood pressure or waist size.

In the second study, 29 black men and women were placed on reduced-calorie diets, and were randomly assigned to either a low-dairy diet ─ zero to one serving per day ─ or a high-dairy diet ─ three servings per day. The group consuming three servings of dairy per day experienced an average weight loss of 24 pounds, compared to an average loss of 13 pounds for the group consuming less dairy. Additionally, the high-dairy group had an average body fat loss of 20 pounds, compared to about 9 pounds in the low-dairy group.

Black Americans stand to gain even more from reduced-calorie, high-dairy diets than white Americans, said lead researcher Michael Zemel, professor of nutrition and director of the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee.

“African-Americans suffer a disproportionately high prevalence of obesity and overweight,” Zemel says. “And African-Americans consume the least calcium and the least dairy in the U.S. So this is the group at the greatest risk with the most to gain from this kind of diet.”

Previous work by Zemel has shown that people on reduced-calorie diets lose more weight if they eat plenty of low-fat dairy products.

National, state and regional dairy checkoff staffs are helping spread the word about these studies through extensive national and local media relations, including a radio media tour, video footage to TV stations, and updated fact sheets. For more information about the studies, visit www.nationaldairycouncil.org.

Dairy Management Inc.; WebMD Medical News