Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 1st 2015 Contents B20
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Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, January 1, 2015
Preschoolers who drink three or more cups of
milk a day may get a small height boost, but they re
also more likely to be overweight or obese, according
to a new US study.
The results, based on nearly 9,000 children, support
current recommendations that preschoolers consume
two one-cup servings of milk a day, the authors say.
"Overall, we were most struck by the heavier BMI
(body mass index) among four-year-old children
drinking high volumes of milk," said Dr Mark DeBoer,
a pediatrician at the University of Virginia in Char-
lottesville who led the study.
"Given the country s current obesity epidemic,
we felt as though the data supported the current
recommendations of the American Academy of Pedi-
atrics, that children drink two servings of milk daily---
but be restrained from drinking higher volumes
because of the potential for unhealthy weight gain,"
he told Reuters Health by email.
DeBoer said earlier research in other age ranges
had noted a connection between higher amounts of
milk intake and taller stature. But, his team writes
in Archives of Disease in Childhood, that studies
have found mixed results when it comes to milk and
excess weight gain.
Data for the new study came from the Early Child-
hood Longitudinal Survey, a US study that began
when the kids were born in 2001.
The researchers examined the milk-consumption
patterns of 8,950 children during their first four
years, based on interviews with parents. They were
also able to follow up with 7,000 of those kids at
They found that 53 per cent of children who drank
milk consumed two or three one-cup servings daily.
Four-year-olds who drank more than the recom-
mended two servings of milk per day were 16 per
cent more likely to be overweight than the kids who
The study team also found that on average, kids
who drank two, three and four or more servings of
milk per day were about a centimeter taller than kids
who drank one serving or less.
By age five, the weight differences were no longer
statistically significant and drinking more milk was
only associated with being slightly taller.
"As pediatricians, we had noticed that some families
do not appear to restrain their children s milk intake,
and we were wondering whether high amounts of
milk intake would be associated with higher body
mass index," DeBoer said. "In that sense, we were
not surprised when we noted that children at four
years old who drank a larger number of servings of
milk daily also had a higher BMI."
There are several possible explanations for the
results, particularly given that milk is high in growth
factors that may or may not contribute to getting
taller, DeBoer noted. It s also possible, he said, "that
the heavier weight status associated with more milk
intake could push children toward earlier growth."
Because the study is based on observation, it cannot
draw conclusions about cause and effect, he cau-
Dr Jonathon Maguire, a pediatrician and researcher
at St Michael s Hospital in Toronto, said studies
based on observing people over time, like the one
DeBoer s team used, are very important.
"We learn from those children about what s healthy
and what s potentially not healthy, and this study is
a nice example of that," said Maguire, who wasn t
involved in the new study.
The findings are also compatible with Maguire s
own research showing that around two cups of milk
per day balances vitamin D and iron stores nicely,
"And what this study emphasises is that around
two cups is a nice balance between linear growth in
terms of stature and avoiding problems like obesity
and overweight," he said.
Two cups of milk may
be ideal for preschoolers
Milk is a staple of the Western diet, MacGuire
said, "It s a very important source of calories and
essential fats, but too much of a good thing may not
be a good thing and that s what this study is sup-
porting," he said. (Reuters)
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