Advances in Nutrition
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Edith Cowan University - Open Access Funding Support Scheme
Dietary guidelines commonly recommend that children aged >2 y consume reduced-fat dairy products rather than regular- or whole-fat dairy. In adults, most studies have not found the consumption of whole-fat dairy products to be associated with increased cardiometabolic or adiposity risk. Associations in children could differ due to growth and development. We systematically reviewed the literature in indexed, peer-reviewed journals to summarize pediatric studies (children aged from 2 to 18 y) assessing associations between whole- and reduced-fat dairy intake and measures of adiposity as well as biomarkers of cardiometabolic disease risk, including the serum lipid profile, blood pressure, low-grade chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and measures of glucose homeostasis. For the purposes of this review, a “whole-fat” dairy product was defined as a product with the natural fat content, whereas a “reduced-fat” dairy product was defined as a product with some or all of the fat removed (including “low-fat” and “skim” versions). A total of 29 journal articles met our criteria for inclusion. The majority were conducted in the United States and were prospective or cross-sectional observational studies, with only 1 randomized controlled trial. Studies were consistent in reporting that whole-fat dairy products were not associated with increased measures of weight gain or adiposity. Most evidence indicated that consumption of whole-fat dairy was not associated with increased cardiometabolic risk, although a change from whole-fat to reduced-fat dairy improved outcomes for some risk factors in 1 study. Taken as a whole, the limited literature in this field is not consistent with dietary guidelines recommending that children consume preferably reduced-fat dairy products. High-quality randomized controlled trials in children that directly compare the effects of whole-fat compared with reduced-fat dairy intake on measures of adiposity or biomarkers of cardiometabolic disease risk are needed to provide better quality evidence in this area.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License