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Back to Experts' Summaries

Milk Products: An Important Tool for Weight Management

Jean-Philippe Chaput Jean-Philippe Chaput, PhD

Junior Research Chair in Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa

While unhealthy diets and sedentariness are the “big two” culprits contributing to overweight and obesity, the evidence to date indicates that an adequate consumption of calcium, especially from milk products, may be a key factor in preventing overweight and obesity.

Highlights:

  • Milk products may potentiate the loss of fat mass in individuals on calorie-restricted regimens who are low calcium (<600 mg/day) consumers to begin with.
  • Milk products facilitate appetite control and contribute to satiety.
  • Milk products provide several nutrients that may be important for weight management including calcium and protein.

According to a reanalysis of the Quebec Family Study, “low calcium intake has a better predictive potential of overweight and obesity compared to these traditional ‘big two’ risk factors.”1,2

And growing evidence indicates that milk products’ benefits surpass their calcium content.2 For example, in a recent randomized controlled trial (RCT), Gilbert et al. demonstrated that milk supplementation (providing 1000 mg calcium/day) attenuated hunger induced by weight loss.3 They suggested that this beneficial effect on appetite control and satiety may relate to milk’s calcium and protein contents.3

Another multicentre RCT showed that a diet that included 3-4 daily servings of milk products (providing 1400 mg calcium/day) nearly doubled the loss of fat mass compared to one containing ≤1 serving/day of milk products (500 mg calcium/day) or 1400 mg calcium/day mainly from calcium supplements.4

Potential mechanisms

Fecal fat excretion: Higher calcium intake can decrease blood lipid concentrations and increase their intestinal excretion, either due to calcium’s ability to form stable complexes that would be excreted in stool or to form precipitates with bile acids that would help decrease lipid absorption.2 This appears to be enhanced when the calcium comes in the form of milk products.2

Satiety and appetite control: In recent studies, hunger and desire to eat were less increased during calorie restriction in milk-supple­mented subjects, and their sensa­tion of satiety was less decreased compared to what would have been predicted by weight loss.2 This may also be related to the protein content of milk products.1 One more reason for favoring milk products over calcium supplements.

Keywords: healthy weight


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