Sydney: There is no evidence that consuming full-fat dairy products increases children's risk of obesity or heart disease, says a new study that raises questions about the current dietary advice for children.
"Dietary guidelines in Australia and other countries recommend children primarily consume reduced-fat dairy products to maintain a healthy weight and good cardiovascular health," said the study's lead author Therese O'Sullivan, Associate Professor at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup, Australia.
"We found studies were consistent in reporting that whole-fat dairy products were not associated with increased levels of weight gain or obesity," she said.
Published in the journal Advances in Nutrition, the research reviewed 29 studies from around the world that examined consumption of full-fat dairy products in children.
The researchers found there was no clear link between the consumption of whole-fat dairy products and weight gain, high cholesterol or high blood pressure in children.
"Reduced-fat dairy is generally recommended for both adults and children over the age of two years due to its lower energy and saturated fat content," O'Sullivan said.
"However, studies suggest children who consumed low-fat over full-fat dairy products were actually replacing those calories from fat with other foods.
"This suggests that low-fat dairy is not as filling as whole-fat dairy, which may lead kids to consume more of other foods. Health effects may depend on what these replacement foods are," she added.
The research suggests that whole-fat dairy products may play an important role in a balanced diet for growing children.
"Dairy is a good dietary source of nutrients for healthy development, including protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and several vitamins," she said.
"Even though the fats found in whole-fat dairy are mostly saturated fats, they don't appear to be associated with the same detrimental health effects observed with foods like fatty meats," she added.