Study says milk’s good for children

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ROSEMONT, Ill. — A new study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that children who drink flavored or plain milk consume more nutrients and have a lower or comparable body mass index (BMI — a measure of body fatness) than children who don’t drink milk.

“Milk contains many nutrients that are important for children. We learned in our research that children who drink milk, including plain and flavored milk, have higher intakes of many nutrients that are low in children’s diets, and comparable or lower BMIs compared to children who don’t drink milk,” said Mary Murphy, co-author of the study.

“Limiting access to flavored milks in schools and elsewhere may have the undesirable effect of further reducing intakes of many essential nutrients provided by milk.”

Study

The study compared nutrient intakes and BMIs among 7,557 U.S. children and adolescents 2-18 drinking flavored milk (with or without plain milk), exclusively plain milk and no milk.

All comparisons were adjusted for the amount of calories reported, as well as age allowing for differences to be examined based on equal consumption of calories and age distributions.

Results showed milk drinkers (flavored and plain) had significantly higher intakes of vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium than nonmilk drinkers.

In addition, BMI measures of milk drinkers were comparable to or lower than measures of nonmilk drinkers. Intake of added sugars did not differ between flavored milk drinkers and nonmilk drinkers.

Among females 12-18, average calcium intakes by flavored milk drinkers and exclusively plain milk drinkers were nearly double the calcium intakes of nonmilk drinkers.

Sugar

Rachel Johnson, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont, a co-author of the study, noted, “Intakes of added sugars were comparable between flavored milk drinkers and nonmilk drinkers, confirming that the inclusion of flavored milk in the diet does not lead to significantly higher added sugar intakes by children and adolescents.”

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage children to consume three age-appropriate servings of low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese or yogurt each day.

Currently, less than half of children 2-8 and only about one-quarter of children 9-19 meet the recommended dairy food intake.

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